Magazine article The Futurist

Civilians Helping Civilians Keep the Peace

Magazine article The Futurist

Civilians Helping Civilians Keep the Peace

Article excerpt

The Technology of Nonviolence: Social Media and Violence Prevention by Joseph G. Bock. The MIT Press. 2012. 288 pages. $32.

While violence continues to plague our world, citizens in many affected communities are organizing their own grassroots initiatives for peace and are proving to be remarkably effective, reports Joseph Bock, a University of Notre Dame professor of humanitarian relief and development. He profiles initiatives in numerous communities and settings, describing each one's methods and what peace activists everywhere can learn from them.

Many of Bock's success stories involve local activists creating early-warning and early-response systems by which members scout for any incidents or developments that could turn violent and then alert authorities who can intervene. Other initiatives establish community forums for resolving conflicts through dialogue. A few initiatives, recognizing that sometimes violence is unavoidable, prepare communities to foresee an attacking force and evacuate to safety. Among those Bock profiles are:

* St. Xavier's Social Services Society, a Catholic relief agency operating in Ahmedabad, India, is internationally funded but is staffed by locals of many faiths. The agency uses street plays, community meetings, and occasional interventions from civic leaders to defuse hostilities between Hindu and Muslim neighborhood residents.

* Genocide Intervention Network, an international peace organization, teamed up with a Burmese NGO called the Free Burma Rangers to install radio-broadcasting systems in villages throughout Burma's Karen state, which had been suffering from repeated clashes between Burma's army and ethnic resistance armies. …

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