Panel Discussion: interView about the Peace and Justice Education Conference

Posted on August 2nd, 2010 | Filed under InterViews, Video

Learn what some of today’s most exciting visionaries, thinkers, advocates, and activists are doing in the field of religion. Watch exclusive interViews, and read responses from the next generation of graduate students, seminarians, and civic leaders.

interView about the Peace and Justice Education Conference

Response by Anna DeWeese

The question at the beginning of the video - do we teach violence - has a rather haunting quality, especially when it is posed as a religious one. In my previous post I mentioned that religious language has potential for great power, which can be utilized in equally positive and negative ways. Violence is about power, and as such religious violence is an issue I take very seriously. Read more here.

Response by Liane Carlson

I’m not sure that’s really the question being asked.  Rather, I think there’s a more specific understanding of violence at stake, with some notion of intentionality behind it.  It’s less whether we teach violence than whether we teach hatred or sadism.  It’s common to claim that animals don’t enjoy watching each other suffer.  We undoubtedly do.  Does that mean we have an instinct for sadism? Read more here.

Response by Michael VanZandt Collins

One can argue that we propagate an attitude or culture of violence in a myriad of ways. Surely, those arguments can also be applied to our schools and our religious communities, as well as our society-at-large. Such communities are simply too large and diverse not to produce inequities and attitudes of superiority at some level, subtle, blatant or anywhere in between. Read more here.

Response by Jess Kent

The coordinators of the Peace and Justice Education Conference at Columbia University had a daunting task at hand, but also an exciting one. Eric Shieh identified that running this conference without creating space for religion to be discussed and represented would be a "glaring absence". Without having attended the conference, I surmise that their efforts to bring religion to the table shed a different light than expected into the mix of conversation. Read more here.

One Response to “Panel Discussion: interView about the Peace and Justice Education Conference”

  1. Peter Frank Womack says:

    Peace, Friends.

    I believe the answer to the initial question is “Of course.” Consider the vast teachings of history in our secular education. It is filled with the history of war: who won what battle and how. We are intrinsically taught that we are the consequence of some sort of battle. I believe, instead, we should teach the history of culture and innovation; the history of ideas that have revolutionised humanity. This is how we begin to effectively teach and practise Peace.

    My brief experience in formal religion demonstrates that, rather than explicit teachings of violence, there has been an implicit teaching of indifference. We are told the stories and principles of history, and we are even encouraged to be compassionate. But, effectively, the targets of our compassion are those who are worshipping with us. We tend to ignore the plight of those who are outside of our circle. Volunteering at the local homeless shelter, whilst well meaning and encouraged, has tended to be self congratulatory and ineffective in genuinely alleviating the scourge of poverty.

    In our society, we have valued intelligence, forethought, and property. Instead, we should establish an economy specifically predicated upon compassion. But the thing with compassion is that one cannot reward it with money or prizes or even titles. The True compensation for compassion is more compassion. Such an abundance of compassion may seem improbable or even sickening to the hardcore cynic. But this is the teaching that brings the religions of the World together. It is through intentionally and directly teaching such compassion (by word and example) that we establish a global society where Peace is the overwhelming norm; a Peace where people are fed, clothed, and housed, and where people interact with each other with heartfelt understanding and altruism, irregardless of the temporal differences that distinguish us from each other.