War and Peace in Muncie IN
Peace activists come together for afternoon of discussion, reflection
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Genocide is always a difficult issue for peace activists to address, says George Wolfe, outreach for the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at Ball State University.
And the most compelling story during a War and Peace talk at The Cup in the University Village was a letter from a former graduate student about the genocide of Christians in Syria by Islamic fundamentalists.
The gathering was somewhat a reunion of Occupy Muncie from two years ago when a handful of activists camped out on the Delaware County Building plaza protesting the money and power of Wall Street. But it also signaled the end of The Art of Injustice, a work by Jake Ressler and others that show the futility of war.
They were joined by those with keep the peace center going amid most of the country unconcerned about as many as 30 million people worldwide who are refugees of war in more than 20 countries, both governed and not governed.
Gerald Waite, another Ball State professor, offered the most tragic example of genocide by reading a letter by Tatevik Avetisyan who pleaded for help to expose the slaughter of Christians in the town of Kessab in Syria on the border with Turkey.
"The social media is flooded by horrible images and footage of killings in Kessab since March," wrote Avetisyan.
And that genocide by Islamic fundamentalists is not being reported by mainstream media.
Avetisyan said the killing was like the Armenian genocide in 1915 during that Christian-Islamic war. Fearing a world war would erupt like it did with World War I, Avetisyan reached out to former Ball State professors to bring attention to the conflict.
Syria has been at war for more than a year, and the United States briefly considered nonmilitary action when chemical weapons were suspected in the genocide. President Barack Obama called for a strike and got only support from conservative Republicans like Congressman Luke Messer.
Public opinion, despite the specter of genocide, was against military action after years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Waite, also a Vietnam veteran, agreed that American military policy no longer supported invading foreign countries and that most Americans either did not care or did not support it either.
Wolfe, also a music professor, said preventing genocide required multinational and multidisciplinary efforts including diplomacy, government cooperation, economic sanctions, grassroots civilian resistance and international peacekeepers.
However, in the Middle East, dictators like Hosni Mubarak or Sadam Hussein are usually tried and killed, making others like Syria's Bashar al-Assad unlikely to give up power.
Killing evil is not possible, Wolfe said, since it just strengthens the resolve of supporters and enables them to continue. Offering conditional political asylum after relinquishing power is one way to enter into a process of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Nonviolence is not inaction or complacency as Wolfe believes, and it can be both obstructive, resisting injustice, and constructive building cooperative, collaborative relationships that support the greater good.
Forgiveness and building relationships for the greater good was one of efforts of Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor who spoke to a crowd at Ball State last week.
Activist Steve Robert got a group of people together, helped raise money and was amazed at the turnout of those who listed to her story of survival, forgiveness and moving on.
Robert also talked about ending war and helping those millions of people who are refugees in search of food, water and housing. He raises awareness and money for water relief in Sudan