You will note that I have greeted you with a gesture of nonkilling respect for you and for all life. It comes from the non-violent Jain tradition of India. Since air, like earth and water, is essential for life, Jains avoid conventional clapping as doing violence to life. I invite you to try it out and add it to your repertoire of nonviolent actions. You will note that it produces an electric group atmosphere of respect for life.
It is a great honor for me and my wife Glenda, along with co-director Greg Bourne and global monitor Tom Fee of the Center for Global Nonkilling, to be with Rev. and Mrs. Lawson, all of you, and with leaders of the pioneering Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Among them I cherish friendships with Board Chair Professor Richard Falk, respected colleague from Princeton days, inspiring poet Dr. David Krieger, who completed his peaceful doctoral program at the University of Hawai‘i one year after I arrived from Princeton as a war-fighting “hawk” in 1967, and former Army Capt. Paul Chappell who contributed by Skype to the 2nd Global Nonkilling Leadership Academy program in Honolulu completed just two weeks ago.
Gandhi rightly said, “My life is my message.” In this case, however, the message is not the life, but a question. The question is: “Is a nonkilling society possible?” Is it possible for us humans to stop killing each other, from the family to the global humanity?
The question is unusual, for one thing because the word “nonkilling” is not yet in a standard English dictionary.
Let’s take a vote. What do you think right now? We might change our minds tomorrow. How many say “No”? How many say “Yes”? How many say “Yes” and “No”? How many say “I don’t know”? How many abstain?
Whatever you now think—“Yes,” “No,” or “Other”—you are invited to explore grounds for confidently answering “Yes.” They are set forth in the book Nonkilling Global Political Science. First published in 2002, it has been translated into 22 languages, with 13 more in progress, including into Arabic, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Urdu. Chinese and Japanese are forthcoming. There are grassroots teaching versions in Haitian Creole, in Ogoni and Ijaw of the Niger Delta, and Kiswahili of Great Lakes Africa (DR Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda).
There are many grounds for confidence that we can stop killing each other. Most humans have never killed anyone. Otherwise humanity long ago would have spiraled into extinction. Ninety-five countries have completely abolished the death penalty. Twenty-seven countries have no armies. Forty-seven countries accept conscientious objection to military service. Spiritual traditions and humanist philosophies proscribe killing. Science promises new understanding of causes and prevention of killing. Components for nonkilling societies already have been demonstrated somewhere in human experience. If creatively combined and adapted in any single place, nonkilling societies can be approximated even now anywhere. In short, knowledge exists to assist crossing the threshold of lethal pessimism to confidently envision a nonkilling global human future.
Since ideas can lead, the Distinguished Leadership Award in this case needs to be directed not to a person but to leadership by an idea—the idea that a killing-free world is possible.
The Nonkilling Leadership Story is a remarkable one.
It starts with Spirit. “No More Killing!”
Spirit becomes a Question. “Is a Nonkilling Society Possible?”
The Question becomes an Answer. “Yes!”
Answer becomes an Organization: “Center for Global Nonkilling,” focused upon advancing research, education, training, putting knowledge into action, and nurturing global nonkilling leaders.
The Organization affirms the Global Nonkilling Spirit which is invoked in the following way:
AFFIRMATION OF THE GLOBAL NONKILLING SPIRIT
In remembrance of all who have been killed
Of all the killers
Of all who have not killed and
Of all who worked to end killing
Guided by the Global Nonkilling Spirit
Taught by faiths and found within
We pledge ourselves and call upon all
To work toward the measurable goal
Of a killing-free world
With infinite creativity in reverence for life.
The Spirit guides the Mission: “To promote change toward the measurable goal of a killing-free world, by means of infinite human creativity with reverence for life.”
Miracles begin to happen, such as:
• Humanity United, founded by Pamela Omidyar, steps forth in 2008 with strategic planning and capacity-building support for the unique Center for Global Nonkilling in 2009 and 2010 to carry forward the vision and accomplishments of its predecessor Center for Global Nonviolence, founded in 1994. The vision seeks to evoke the spiritual, scientific, skill, and artistic creativity of nonkilling humankind.
• The thesis of Nonkilling Global Political Science escapes the bounds of political science and begins to question the killing-accepting assumptions of other academic disciplines.
• In 2009 young Joám Evans Pim in Spain edits and publishes Toward a Nonkilling Paradigm, engaging 22 authors in 15 disciplines, including chapters on nonkilling history, nonkilling mathematics, and nonkilling engineering.
• In addition, Joám mobilizes 375 scholars in 200 universities in 50 countries in 20 nonkilling research committees. He creates a series of books by multiple authors published or forthcoming, including Nonkilling Societies, Nonkilling History, Nonkilling Engineering, Nonkilling Psychology, and Nonkilling Korea: Six Culture Explorations. Planned are volumes on Nonkilling Economics, Futures, Geography, Linguistics and Spiritual Traditions.
• Spontaneously, organizations and movements begin to arise to carry the nonkilling idea into research, education and action. They arise in Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Haiti, India, the Philippines and Great Lakes Africa. A little nonkilling school for 230 children aged 5-6 and 7-8 with 5 teachers arises in the village of Kazimia on the banks of Lake Tanganyika in the DR Congo. A pioneering nonkilling anthropology course is created by Professor Leslie Sponsel at the University of Hawai‘i.
• On nurturing leadership, in 2009 and 2010, the first two Global Nonkilling Leadership Academies are held to bring young women and men together for two weeks to share experiences and to make plans for nonkilling change in their societies. They review lessons from leaders like Queen Lili‘uo‘kalani, Gandhi, King, Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Ron Mallone, Petra Kelly and Governor Guillermo Gaviria of Colombia, among others.
• Participants have come from Bangladesh, Colombia, Germany, Haiti, Hawai‘i, Ireland, India, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Liberia, Palestine, Philippines, Thailand, Trinidad, and Western Sahara.
• The Center for Global Nonkilling becomes a partner of the WHO Violence Prevention Alliance in its work to eliminate human violence (suicide, homicide, and collective violence) as a “preventable disease.”
• Introduced by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, the Center becomes a Friend of the Nobel Peace Laureates’ World Summits and contributes to Principle 13 of its Charter for a World without Violence: “Everyone has the right not to be killed and the responsibility not to kill others.”
What does the nonkilling idea mean for support for the work of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and other great organizations that celebrate life while working for a world free of war and other threats to human survival and well-being? It simply means adding nonkilling confidence to inspired work for nuclear disarmament and security, economic well-being, freedom and human rights, protection of the biosphere, and every other issue requiring universal problem-solving cooperation.
The nonkilling idea seeks a killing-free world achieved by global diffusion of a strong nonkilling ethic combined with global citizen understanding of ways and means to bring it about. It is a process in which each human being who shares the air and precious gift of life on earth now and in the future becomes a center for global nonkilling.
And so, I share with you a nonkilling gesture, a question: “Is a nonkilling society possible?,” and an answer: “Yes!,” and offer some evidence that the ancient nonkilling idea is beginning to lead anew in the 21st century. More can be found on the website of the Center for Global Nonkilling (www.nonkilling.org).
To all of you, Glenda and I bring warmest Aloha from Hawai‘i.