MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - With threats of nuclear war in North Korea, the August eruption of street violence that engulfed Charlottesville, Virginia, and the blood-splattered crime blotters of cities like Memphis, a group of peace promoting Mid-Southerners wants to make nonviolence a visible and viable option for our community.
You'll be seeing people holding signs simply stating the word "nonviolence" on Friday, September 22nd as part of Campaign Nonviolence Memphis Week of Action. The events will a run for ten days, September 14-24, 2017, and they're all free of charge.
"Campaign Nonviolence calls on us to put the word 'nonviolence' in front of our cities, hence to proclaim a nonviolent Memphis and to envision and work for this together by connecting communities of faith as well groups working for peace and justice to create together a culture of nonviolence at all levels of our society, free from war, poverty, racism, destruction of the earth, and all other forms of violence," said Dr. Monica Juma, a physician associated with the University of Tennessee and one of the leaders of a grassroots movement to awaken Memphis to the need to practice nonviolence.
Events begin Thursday, September 14 with a talk by Swamigi from the Viswayogi Foundation in India. The spiritual leader runs a free hospital for the under-served and has one close friend in Memphis who extended the invitation to speak.
Swamiji has a vision for unity among faiths, universal peace and an end to poverty and hunger. His talk will take place at 7 o'clock the evening of Thursday, September 14 at Freedom's Chapel Christian Church at 961 Getwell Road. An Interfaith Labyrinth Walk for Peace and Service will take place at 11 o'clock on Saturday morning, September 16 at Unity Church of Practical Christianity located at 9228 Walnut Grove Rd. On Sunday, September 17, the National Civil Rights Museum will host the third annual Interfaith Peace and Justice Vigil from 3-5 o'clock. Community leaders like Rev. Roz Nichols from Freedom's Chapel Christian Church will speak about their work and vision for a Nonviolent Memphis. Other organizations that'll be represented include The Memphis School of Servant Leadership, MIFA, Black Lives Matter, United Campus Workers, Pax Christi Memphis, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, The Viswayogi Foundation, Latino Memphis, Coalition for Transforming Communities, and Unity Church of Practical Christianity, as well as the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.
On Thursday, September 21 from 7 to 8:30 in the evening, a Buddhist Mediation Center at 3921 Frayser-Raleigh Road will host "The Sound of Peace" --- Mediation with Music and Mantra with an opening talk by Khenpo Gawang Rinpoche, the founder of the Pema Karpo Meditation Center. The next day, Friday, September 22, you'll see people standing with the aforementioned signs promoting the word "nonviolence" at intersections during the evening rush hour from 5 to 6 o'clock.
The Pema Karpo Mediation Center hosts another evening entitled "Meditating with the Blue Turtle – a sensory enhanced meditation experience with music, ocean sounds, and shifting lights" used to create a relaxing and peaceful environment on Friday, September 22 from 6 to 7 p.m. If you hear drums pounding at high noon around Overton Square on Saturday, September 23, head for the courtyard area where you can bring your percussion instrument and make noise for nonviolence in a drum circle. Extra percussion instruments will be available if you don't have one. That evening, Pemo Karpo Meditation Centers hosts a "Heightened Five Senses Party" from 7-10 p.m.
"A party mix of ancient wisdom techniques and modern stuff, including music, conversation, snacks and more," Dr. Juma said. "Campaign Nonviolence believes in the power of the nonviolent teachings of Jesus, Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and part of its mission is to educate, train and practice these principles in our communities."
In anticipation of the threat of possible violence, if the State of Tennessee approves removal of Confederate statues from Memphis, Dr. Juma says Campaign Nonviolence Memphis will conduct training to encourage leaders who will try to preserve the peace.
"For example, prior to the Women's March, we held 'peace ambassador' trainings in many cities to teach de-escalation and communication in tense situations. It also seeks to understand and connect the dots between the underlying causes of violence: poverty, racism, etc., and to work together with groups addressing these issues, Dr. Juma said.