The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington cry out for a global response to help make the world as secure as we can from the threats of war, terrorism and mass destruction. People from eighty different countries died along with thousands of Americans. People around the world are grieving. But the retributive violence that the U.S. government is threatening would only add to the bloodshed, as well as to the risks of continued terrorism. We must not only condemn the murder of innocent people and seek a trial of the perpetrators. We must find a peaceful, non-violent way to respond to the attacks of September 11, and to ultimately reduce the inequity and violence in our world which breed such terrorism.
Mahatma Gandhi launched India’s nonviolent independent movement inspired, in part, by U.S. history – in the acts of Henry David Thoreau in the mid-nineteenth century to resist an unjust war and slavery. In turn, the civil rights struggle led by Martin Luther King, Jr. was partly inspired by Gandhi’s example.
October 2 is Gandhi’s birthday. Let us gather that day in our communities around the world to remember those who died in a common disaster, and to reflect on the actions we might take both within our communities and across national boundaries that would honor the global nature of the tragedy and work, in the tradition of Gandhian nonviolence, to prevent its repetition. It is also critical to remember that Gandhi’s methods of social and national change started with personal reflection and individual change, as he put it, to “become the change we want to see in the world.” Decisions to voluntarily reduce individual oil consumption, for instance, could be as much a part of a nonviolent response to the tragedy of September 11 as proposals to ship food and medicine to Afghanistan.
The links below provide basic resources which you can use in this process, including a selection of Gandhi’s quotes most pertinent to the current crisis, sample letters to the editor, and a sample press release, should you decide to hold a more public meeting to discuss these issues. We at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research are happy to help you if you have any questions on this material. We also welcome your feedback, and would very much like to hear how you used this call and attached materials in your own community. For both questions and feedback, please contact project coordinator Gordon Clark at 1-301-270-5500.
We hope that you will join us on Mahatma Gandhi’s 132nd birthday in reflecting on the lessons of nonviolent struggles led by him (and others) against violence, militarism, and injustice and towards global democracy, justice, equity, and friendship. At the crossroads in history created by the dreadful, tearful ashes of September 11, we can begin to establish this tradition as the normal one for the world of the twenty-first century.