We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
Today is the International Day of Non-Violence. Throughout the world, violence takes many different forms. We live in an era of increasing global connections where people frequently come face to face with people who hold different beliefs, speak new languages, and practice unfamiliar traditions. Unfortunately, often these meetings breed violence. I wish that the universal response to meeting people from different cultures was to teach and learn from each other, respect each other, and build a more tolerant and peaceful world together.
The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, speaks about non-violence in his message for the International Day of Non-Violence 2014. He says,
“We have to foster a culture of peace, built on dialogue and understanding, for living together in harmony while respecting and celebrating humanity’s rich diversity.
There is no greater tool than education to enhance human dignity, promote a culture of non-violence, and build lasting peace. Through education, we can craft new ways of living with each other and the planet. Education can also lay the foundation for developing new forms of global citizenship and solidarity that are so essential in today’s world.
On this Day, I call on all people to counter the forces of intolerance, advance global citizenship and forge human solidarity based on Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence.”
AUA continues to promote the tenets of non-violence through our volunteer programs. In the past, we have sent volunteers to Dian Interfidei, an interfaith organization working to build religious tolerance in Indonesia. Their vision and mission can be found in more detail on their website along with information about their activities. Dian Interfidei seeks to, “establish a civilized plural civic society that is rooted in the values of humanities, democracy, justice, and the integrity of all creation.” They believe in the importance of dialogue to increase cooperation and tolerance between differing groups of people. One volunteer, Winona Vaitekunas, wrote about volunteering at Dian Interfidei and some lessons she learned during her time there. When our volunteers return home from their internships abroad, they share their experience with their local communities. This process of encouraging dialogue, both at home and abroad, is a valuable aspect of our volunteer program, a way to promote peace and intercultural understanding, and a means to spread the philosophy of non-violence.
Post written by Alison Muscato.