Following in the footsteps of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., famous leader of the American nonviolence movement for Civil Rights, two professors from the United States visited St. Joseph College on January 25 to conduct an introductory training in Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Reconciliation. Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquita, Director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island, joined by his wife and fellow nonviolence co-trainer, Professor Kay Johnson-Bueno de Mesquita, instructed more than 500 students in the philosophy and principles of Dr. King, who was heavily influenced by Mahatma Gandhi.
Recalling Dr. King’s famous 1963 “I Have a Dream“ speech, the two nonviolence professors outlined how everyone can realize their dreams if they follow the principles of nonviolence to address inevitable conflicts and to improve social conditions contributing to violence. Contrary to popular misconceptions that nonviolence is for passive and timid people, Dr. Bueno de Mesquita explained that nonviolence is actually an active way of life for courageous people. King’s vision of the “beloved community” was built on equality and justice for all. Stressing that the cornerstone of outward nonviolent social change is internal nonviolence of the spirit, known as unconditional Agape love. Quoting King, he said “Nonviolence means not just refusing to shoot another, but also refusing to hate another.” Citing recent research by social scientists, Prof. Paul explained that an analysis of hundreds of nonviolent social change movements over past one hundred years showed them to be twice as successful as political uprisings that resort to violence.
The session offered opportunity for interaction between students and the visiting peace professors. As future leaders and with dreams of their own, St. Joseph students were intellectually curious to learn more. Referring to the current status of race relations and gun violence in the US, students asked “If Dr. King’s dream was fully realized yet?” and “Would it be possible to establish our own Center for Nonviolence right here at St. Joseph’s College?”.
As the program began with a peace song, it concluded with a rousing rendition of “We Shall Overcome” the American civil rights anthem of nonviolence. Locking arms, the inspired students joyfully raised their 500 beautiful voices chiming together in harmony and singing with conviction the refrain, “Deep in my heart, I do believe, that we shall overcome some day.” Hopefully, one day soon their dreams of nonviolence will flow like a river spreading peace throughout Nagaland. Rev.Dr. Sebastian, principal St. Joseph’s College thanked the resource persons and Peace Channel for initiating the net work with the University of Rhode Island USA.