Main subjects addressed
The International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR): USA civil rights movement, IFOR documentary film. USA Globalization and multinational corporations, USA media, USA attitudes regarding terrorism and Muslims, USA peace activist movement, USA government unfair labeling of Europe, The importance of Social Forums. Since 1915, The International Fellowship of Reconciliation has carried out campaigns and educational projects advocating demilitarization, racial and economic justice, and the peaceful resolution to conflict.
The FOR is an interfaith and international movement with branches and groups in over 40 countries and on every continent. The membership of FOR includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and people of other faith traditions, as well as those with no formal religious affiliation. IFOR also has consultant status to the United Nations. FOR is the largest, oldest, interfaith peace organization in the USA.
Over many decades FOR, IVB and IFOR members have hosted seminars in active nonviolence around the world. IFOR training in active nonviolence led by Jean Goss, Hildegard Goss-Mayr and Richard Deats contributed significantly to the nonviolent “People-Power” overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines.
IFOR, FOR and IVB’s past and present members include many well known nonviolent activists including Muriel Lester, A.J. Muste, Dorothy Day, Jean Goss, Hildegard Goss-Mayr, Thomas Merton, Richard Deats, Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Nobel Peace Prize 1977), SERPAJ’s Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Nobel Peace Prize 1980) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (Nobel Peace Prize 1964), who was the vice president of FOR USA throughout most of his adult career.
The workshop which was conducted by IFOR representative Gregory Kennedy-Salemi at the European Social Forum in Paris consisted of previewing a documentary film produced by Gregory Kennedy-Salemi about IFOR’ s history and involvement in the USA civil rights movement, the Philippine “People Power” movement and other work for social and economic justice and reconciliation. The film was followed by an opening statement read by Mr. Kennedy-Salemi. The opening statement addressed the current political situation and positions held by the Bush administration and USA policies. The main points stated by Mr. Kennedy-Salemi were as follows. That the world’s political and multi-national corporate and media outlets have been complicit in promoting violence, racism, environmental damage and exploitation of the worlds poor.
That the power to change the current global, political system rests in the hands of the world’s citizens that care about the future of our planet and it’s fair treatment and respect of it’s people and cultures, and that collectively we can utilize non-violent actions and instruments to effect positive change that are mutually for all.
Additionally Mr. Kennedy-Salemi expressed the need for the USA and it’s supporters to respect international law and international bodies, namely the United Nations and the need for reconciliation between governments and warring parties. After Mr. Kennedy-Salemi’s opening statement there was an interactive question and answer session with all of the workshop participants, which allowed the participants the opportunity to express there thoughts and opinions about the important issues and challenges facing the world.
For governments to truly seek to settle disputes via dialogue and diplomacy. For corporations to emplore sustainable methodology practices in every aspect of their business dealings, truly incorporating social, economic and environmental sustainability practices into their methodology.
For the global media actors to allow varied opinions and alternative opinions to be presented and discussed openly and fairly as democracies and democratic principles will only work effectively and justly when opposing of different views are allowed to be openly presented and discussed. To promote the respect of all cultures and peoples in order to create an environment of mutual respect and understanding.
Implementing the alternatives
The best hope to implement the alternatives is for NGO’s and civil society actors to work together in promoting the proposed alternatives. This can be accomplished via establishing closer working relationships between NGO’s and civil society actors, by NGO’s and civil society actors pooling resources to purchase mainstream commercials media space (newspaper ads, commercials) in order to reach a larger public audience with the commonly held messages, aims and goals of NGO’s and civil society actors being put forward in an intelligent manner. That we must utilize universities and schools in order to educate the youth regarding these issues.