“We Want Peace, No More War!”
These were the words of a memorable song constantly on the lips of the women of the women's peace movement that brought down Charles Taylor’s brutal dictatorship in Liberia. My host last week in Liberia, Mariam Z. Brown, is one of the heroes of that struggle. She, Leymah Gbowee (2011 Nobel Laureate) and others organized Muslim and Christian women to force Charles Taylor to the negotiating table that resulted in the end of the 14-year long period of terror. Abigail Disney (whom I got to know a couple of years ago) tells the story powerfully in her movie Pray the Devil Back to Hell. If you haven’t seen it, you must. It's available on many video streaming sites.
Twenty years later, worried about the violence that could take place during the upcoming election on October 10th, they are still singing that song.
Since most election violence is committed by young people, Bishop Kortu Brown, William Lloyd (our organizer) and I met with more than 100 twelfth grade students and asked them to make a solemn pledge. With hands over their heart, they promised: “My name is…. I promise not to commit any violence during the election season.”
They also promised to get all their friends to take that same pledge. As they do so, the students will take a video or photograph and send those to us. We will compile them into TikTok and You Tube videos and send it back to them, so they can make them go viral on social media, getting lots more young people to make that promise. Our friend and master videographer Vince Isner has agreed to turn those into a video in a few days.
Over 100 students pledged not to use violence during the election season and to get others to do the same.
Some students will form IP Teams adding to the 20 teams that are already functioning. This will be their first Urgent, Relevant and Winnable project. It will help them build their power and go on to do greater things. Other IP Teams will convene churches, mosques and local organizations in their villages and strategize about how to reduce violence in their communities.
There are alternatives to war. The political leaders have no interst in trying them. Religious leaders must step up and lead.Learn More