National Peacemakers Summit Meeting Leads to Creation of Shanti Sena Network

By Mary Hanna

 

 

Portland, OR –Seventeen people from across the United States and Canada, committed to nonviolence and teaching the tools of third-party nonviolent intervention, gathered this weekend at the Whitefeather Peace House in Portland, Oregon to discuss unifying their efforts to create a nonviolent response to violence in their local areas.  The three-day gathering resulted in the creation of the Shanti Sena Network (SSN). ‘Shanti Sena’ was a term coined by Mahatma Gandhi, and it means “peace army.”

 Representatives from the Metta Center for Nonviolence, Michigan Peace Team, Veterans for Peace, the D.C. Peace Team, the Minnesota Peace Team, Global Peace Services, Nonviolence Lab, the NCI Network, PeaceVoice, Washington Peace Team, and former members of Nonviolent Peaceforce, met and agreed to continue expanding this network.  The SSN will cohesively link peace organizations and nonviolent skills trainers from across North America as they endeavor to teach violence prevention/de-escalation techniques, create regional peace teams (both long and short term), and work together to deploy trained peace teams to areas of potential violence where requested.

Gandhi scholar Michael Nagler said “The purpose of this work should ultimately hinge on the uplifting of the human image as powerful creators of nonviolent change.”

Gandhi saw the Shanti Sena as composed primarily of volunteers whose mission is to provide constructive, creative avenues for violence prevention and control, and felt it would be crucial to the development of world peace; he thought that any truly free society must be able to manage its own conflicts without resorting to violence or fear lest it become obligated to a military class and thus forfeit significant parts of its democracy.

Currently, the SSN plans to meet quarterly as they begin building the national network.

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Mary Hanna is an organizer for Michigan Peace Teams based in Lansing, Michigan.

 *If you would like to participate, please write: info@mettacenter.org*

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    By: Stephanie Van Hook

    Before joining the Metta Center Team as Executive Director, Stephanie received an M.A. in Conflict Resolution from Portland State University; was trained and certified in mediation in the state of Oregon; worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin, West Africa, where she created a program for girls’ empowerment and education; has taught French and English for the Alliance Francaise; and was trained in Montessori Early Childhood Education with seven years of classroom experience with 3-6 year olds. 

    She is the author of Gandhi Searches for Truth: A Practical Biography for Children (Person Power Press, 2016) and Nonviolence Daily: 365 Days of Wisdom from Gandhi (Person Power Press, 2019, co-authored with Michael Nagler).  Her articles have been published at Transformation at Open Democracy, Yes! Magazine, Common Dreams, and Waging Nonviolence. Additionally, she’s host of Nonviolence Radio, an FM and Pacifica syndicated radio program out of Point Reyes Station, California, (KWMR). She’s currently developing our board game, Cosmic Peaceforce: Mission Harmony Three.

    She lives in an ashram (meditation community) in Northern California, (but if she didn’t, she’d be keen on joining the Nonviolent Peaceforce as an unarmed peacekeeper).

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