Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Drone Warfare

"We appreciate what the Americans have done to help build our country..." confided Mohamed from Afghanistan. He qualified by saying "...its just that we don't accept their policies." He was referring to the unmanned drone attacks on civilians. These drones, launching hellfire missiles, are used to reduce American exposure to combat or fight in areas inaccessible to ground troops. The level of anger in Afghanistan is raising at the judge, jury and execution without due process. Many civilian casualties are a by product of this method of warfare. Pilots fly the drones like a computer game and pull the trigger to destroy life while sitting in air conditioned offices thousands of miles, if not half a world, away. Stories also abound of the drones flown over Mindanao's islands looking for 'terrorists'.

These and many other tales of people working for positive, peaceful change, demonstrate the challenges facing global peacebuilders. The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute 2009 included people from thirteen nationalities and many more ethnicities. Course offered by MPI include basics in peacebuilding and conflict transformation in addition to more advanced courses like mediation skills, trauma healing and religious peacebulding through dialogue.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It Makes Me Curious

“It makes me curious; the way the Mennonites live,”said one participant in the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) Active Nonviolence (ANV) class. The models and principles presented in the class were peppered with stories, especially from my own Mennonite faith tradition. The realization that the use of violence to achieve change or reach some social goal at first looks very rational but quickly moves to irrationality. This is abundantly clear enough if one examines the US’s wars of the past 50 years. Embracing nonviolence as a social change agent looks crazy and irrational at first but as change comes, the rationality of intact social systems and infrastructure makes the ANV movement look sane indeed. There are numerous examples we use in the class to demonstrate this point. Starting with Gandhi’s experiment with Satiyagraha (truth force) in India to oust the British and Badja Khan his contemporary in Pakistan to the Ogoni People in the Niger Delta, the nonviolent movements are as innovative and creative as the human species is resilient. Check some of these movements out by reading the book “A Force More Powerful.” Amazon has it. My library has it too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MPI Active Nonviolence

Working through the different types of power during a presentation in our Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) class on Active Nonviolence (ANV), we introduced the power of Love as the most powerful and omniscient force in the universe. One participant shared how that power is challenging her to see her presence in the class as part of God's direction for her. She is from one of Mindanao's troubled areas and her father and uncle have been shot. This institute is part of her healing, she asserted, as she discovers the dynamics of nonviolence.

The class is looking at effective methods of change through the use of ANV. The use of nonviolence leaves communities stronger and more secure. Violence has asserted itself in many contexts as the only option. It is not. A majority of the time people meet each other the interactions are amicable and problems solved through simple negotiation. Nonviolence is the norm of human relationships while violence is abnormal.

While this is the seventh year I am facilitating at MPI, this the fourth year I am co-facilitating the ANV class with Myla Leguro, a Filipina who has worked nearly 20 years at peacebuilding here in Mindanao. Its a privilege and honor to work with someone so experienced and talented.

Friday, May 15, 2009

LGU’s and Laryngitis

“Injustice and land disputes yield armed conflict and result in poverty and malnutrition,” said a municipal counselor in our peacebuilding class for local government units (LGUs) in the Philippines. It has been gratifying to see the lights come on in some participant’s eyes as they learn that conflict transformation offers an alternative between suppressing justice concerns and asserting justice violently.

The two and a half day training started the afternoon after I got off the longest plane ride of my life, 24 hours from Houston to Singapore via Moscow. Add the 4 hours to get from Harrisburg to Houston and the 4 hours from Singapore to Davao and that makes 32 hours flying time in the silver aluminum can.

That aside, I arrived in Davao City with no voice. On my layover in Singapore I conducted a seminar entitled “The Good News of Christ Confronts a World of Violence” for the students of the Bethany International University. One student came up afterward and thanked me saying “The church doesn’t talk much about this topic.” I wonder why.

Now, short on voice I had to rely on my mentor and co-facilitator Deng Giguiento (pictured). She has trained community person for years in Philippines and East Timor and knows how to improvise on the fly should one of her colleagues loose his voice. I am here in the Philippines early for Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) which starts the week of the 18 May. Stay tuned for more postings from MPI…

Friday, May 8, 2009

Fog of Life

The mist rolls in
blocking the vistas
with grey

Fog horns sound
from ships far and near
visioning by sound

Unfamiliar ways of perceiving
when foresight is blunted
by uncertainty

Hearing the Spirit
touching the invisible
smelling sweet peace

Fog of life
seeing through chaos
feeling our way to

17 Feb 2005
Lantau Island, Hong Kong
by jon rudy