DOV Newsletter - Issue number 5, February 2005


Dear reader:

The violence of the tsunami was not caused by human power or intervention. It was a natural violence, instantaneous and terrifyingly destructive. In contrast to human caused violence, this one has brought people together. It has demonstrated significant peace-making potential. Violence caused by humans does not have any claim on that potential, except for bringing together one party against the other. Nor does it solicit the kind of response we saw after the tsunami.

There is no explanation of the meaning of natural disaster, but there well is of the meaning of human made violence. It begins with what the prayer of Jesus on the cross expresses: They do not know what they do. That is true of human violence: not knowing what one does, nor understanding what is really going on. Truth is the first victim in war, and it is also a casualty in interpersonal violence. A humanity that spends $1,000 billion on militarism and does not have one third of the sum available to address the world's most pressing and threatening problems will be said to not know what it is doing. In a world where 24,000 people die every day of hunger - an indirect form of violence by deprivation or negligence, it will be said that the world's community did not know what it was doing. We can learn what is going on, not just facts and figures, but causes and connections. Do we know what we are doing?

In the DOV coordination office we have begun looking more closely at the findings of the World Health Organization in regard to violence and violence prevention. There is crucial information and guidelines for churches committed to address violence. At the same time, collaboration with grassroots networks within the framework of the UN Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World continues - the DOV calls on us to work collaboratively with all people of good will. Churches and their institutions can be helpful in promoting both the prevention of violence (WHO) and in promoting a culture of peace (UNESCO). And they should do so in cooperation with international, regional and national UN-related agencies as well as other non-church actors.

As we approach the DOV mid-term, the Annual Focus has shifted from the US in 2004 - The Power and Promise of Peace - to Asia in 2005: Building Communities of Peace for All. Let us work collaboratively and in ways that overcome violence, do justice and promote reconciliation. Together, knowing what is going on, grounded in love and motivated by the Spirit, we shall overcome violence.

Hansulrich Gerber

DOV Coordinator