Tuesday, April 27th marked the last War and Peace class, a night class that shows a film each week revolving around the different aspects of war and war culture . A class that broadened everyone’s perspectives about war and most importantly the usefulness and need for peacebuilding. The last film watched was a ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, an emotional, touching anime film directed by Isao Takahata. It followed the lives of two orphaned Japanese kids during World War II. It also showed the innocence of these children and the hardships they encountered everyday. This film could be noted as a semi-auto biography and knowing that could just give you ‘chills’ that this animated movie could have been a reality for someone else.

Most people believe that as Americans, war is necessary in order to secure safety and freedom for all or to serve as the “beacon of hope”, but I don’t know whether people actually know the devastating effects of what happens to the nations and countries being under attack. This class enlightened me and raised awareness into why peacebuilding is a possibility and would even  be essential and cost-effective. As Rev. Lawson said, “people who full-heartedly believe in war should go to the warfronts in Iraq and Iran and see the damage that is being done…it is mostly women and children who are dying.” War and violence should not be the answer to solve problems; innocent lives are lost, families torn apart and towns and civilizations destroyed.

As this class came to an end, I tied my learning from this class to recent events of what’s happening in  Baltimore. Some media coverage is portraying that rioting is not the answer, and as a matter of fact useless.  I couldn’t help but think that America, as a nation, has used violence, especially war in their advantage to gain, rule and conquer other countries. It’s hypocritical, on the U.S. behalf to condemn the rioters, when a majority of our tax paying dollars goes to finance wars, militarization of the police and etc.; essentially promoting violence.

It is crucial to send the right message across and understand fully into the cause of the rioting rather than the effect. It is even said by Martin Luther King Jr., “…America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air….social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.” With that said and the knowledge gained from this class, it is a possibility to achieve justice, equality and peace without using violence.

Overall, this class was great and I am not the only one who shared this opinion. The class ended with my fellow classmates applauding and praising Professor Denton-Borhaug and Professor Jasper for not only this great class but a life changing lesson.

— Victoria Alukpe


Grave of the Fireflies Review

Grave of the Fireflies was directed by Isao Takahata in 1988.  This film chronicles the story of a young boy and his sister’s fight for survival following the fire bombings in Japan during World War II.  The movie starts off with a young boy near death in the middle of a crowded train station.  Moments later, we see his lifeless body while train station guards figure out how to dispose of the boy’s belongings.  The belongings are thrown outside, which then allows the ghosts of two children to appear out of patch of grass surrounded by fireflies.  The film is viewed from the ghost’s flashbacks of their life when they were alive.

From the flashbacks, we learn that are main characters are Seita and his younger sister Setsuko.  We also learn that after the first firebombing, the two siblings tragically lose their mother and are forced to live with their aunt.  Their aunt, while welcoming at first, soon begins to get bitter as the war goes on, as well as having to take on the added weight of caring for two children.  Tired of their aunt’s increasing bitterness, the siblings decide to move out on their own and find shelter in an abandoned bomb shelter.  As time passes, Seita and Setsuko struggle to find food and maintain their health.  Eventually both of the children succumb to starvation and dehydration.

Grave of the Fireflies attempts to examine the impact of war on children and their surviving family members.  It is evident within the first couple minutes of this film that Grave of the Fireflies is going to tug on the heartstrings of anyone who decides to watch it.  Although this movie is considered a war movie, there is very little “action.”  What this film lacks in “action” or “violence” is made up by the beautiful story as told through the eyes of our two main characters.  Grave of the Fireflies started out with two happy, healthy, children and ended with the deaths of the very same children.  This aspect of the film shows how war affects children in particular.  This film not only managed to capture the children’s innocence, but also managed to capture their struggles, high points, and inner emotional turmoil, all while being beautifully animated.

How the film addresses war and/or peacebuilding…….

they try to remain happy even in times of war for his sister
how little kids affected by war
“you cant be a soldier if you dont grow up healthy”
why do they focus on the little details? (ants, rice)
have to focus on little things to keep them going through tough time

— Autumn Childs

It was a great honor to see Rev. James Lawson’s speech at Moravian College. Rev. James Lawson had a huge impact in the civil rights movement. He was the collaborator of the civil rights movement. When he entered the graduate school of theology at Oberlin College in Ohio, he met Martin Luther King, Jr. an influential activist who notably led the Montgomery bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. Martin Luther King, Jr. urged Rev. James Lawson to travel down to the south, saying that “Come now, we don’t have anyone like you down there.”

Rev. James Lawson spoke about equality and rationality, as well as protesting without being disruptive. There are many different means of how to go about protesting. Frequently, there isn’t a positive outcome since there is more violence rather than peaceful protesting and improvement.  Rev. Lawson enforced the idea of peaceful protesting and how to make a stance without unnecessary violence. The idea is to present the message and to be recognized.  Ideally, this message would stimulate conversation and allow opportunities for change.  That’s how Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rev. Lawson attempted to establish this movement. They did not wish to seek any harm on people.  Instead, they focused on expressing themselves calmly in their movement so that everyone is treated equally.

Last weeks speech was not just focused on the civil rights movement. Instead, he expanded his discussion towards all races, sexes, and creeds to show that it is not just African Americans that are being discriminated. He specifically mentioned illegal immigrants and undocumented people in the United States. Even though they are human beings, they are often categorized as aliens and are discriminated for being on United States soil. Rev. Lawson also said “not just blacks but all races should be included and not denied.” This shows that the movement was very open-minded and wasn’t just targeted towards select individuals but for everyone. Rev. Lawson said, “each person must save their own lives” we are the ones who decide what to do and how to become a better person to us and to others.

Overall the speech was very informative and very eye opening to the audience. Rev. James Lawson was very informative to his audience about Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers mission was and their process and theory behind getting the message to be heard without the violence. It was a great privilege to hear about the civil rights movement through someone who lived it first hand.

– Velvet Alvarez

Where do we go from here? Chaos or Community? A Lecture by Rev. Lawson

On April 23rd, members of the Moravian College community and the public gathered in Prosser Auditorium to hear the lecture presented by Reverend James Lawson as the 2014-15 IN FOCUS bridge speaker. His lecture title, “Where do we go from here: chaos or community?” comes from the title of a book written in 1967 by Martin Luther King Jr., his old colleague and friend. Reverend Lawson worked closely with King during the Civil Rights movement. His focused on teaching the practice of nonviolence as a means for achieving the movement’s goals. He then went to become a pastor at the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles for twenty-five years, from 1974 to 1999. At eighty-five years old, Reverend Lawson continues to be a nonviolent activist. To have such an important and influential person from history come to speak at Moravian was truly an honor.

Reverend Lawson spoke with such great eloquence and poise, making his words all the more captivating. His lecture was based on three principles that he believes humans must be able to fully understand so they can apply nonviolent to their lives. The first principle focuses on the importance of valuing the gift of life itself. He emphasized that we must understand the beauty in living, something that is too often forgotten. It seemed almost ironic to hear this while sitting in room with a great number of stressed Moravian college students and professors who are in the midst of finishing the semester. There is certainly so much truth in his words, as we do tend to forget how wonderful life itself is. His second principle is that we must make our country our own. In other words, we must stand up and advocate for the country that we want to live in, not one that makes decisions or laws that we may no agree with. His third principle is that if we do want change in the future, we cannot achieve change with violence. He stated, “Nonviolent direct action must become the policies of the 21st century.” Reverend Lawson urged everyone in the room to consider that not until we reflect on our own outlook of life can realize how we can live life to the fullest, and once we realize that, then the solution to achieving change can only be done so in a nonviolent way. Part of the purpose of explaining these principles was directed at the young people in the room. At the conclusion of his lecture, he encouraged the youth in the Moravian College community to fight for our justice.

On Thursday, April 23, 2015, Rev. James Lawson II presented a lecture in Prosser Auditorium. Rev. James Lawson is one of the most inspirational and influential men of our time. He was a leader in the Civil Rights non-violent movement along with a change advocate. His lecture was titled, “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?” and discussed ways of handling challenges in a non-violent manor. The theme of Rev. James Lawson’s lecture was that nearly all situations can be handled through non-violent acts to ensure peace. This theme was quoted as he states that, “struggle of the future must be non-violent. This is shown throughout various stories from Lawson’s past as he relates it back to what can be done in each individual’s daily lives. One of Lawson’s opening remarks included the words, “Civil rights for many people in the US is seen as something blacks wanted not a part of history”. These words struck the audience as a nod of agreement was shared among the people. This thought shows the views of many towards a historical struggle that was fought with mainly non-violent tactics. Many people know of this movement by names such as the ‘black freedom movement’ and ‘the second revolutionary American movement’. These names show that people are unaware of the realities of this movement and the purpose of this important piece of history.

Along with Lawson’s ideas towards non-violence, he remained true towards the teachings of giving society all each person has to offer because “our life is the best gift” we have to offer the world. With this being said he encourages everyone to take a stand because people have the power to change the world and make it a more desirable place. This was pushed through motivational quotations such as, “to be what  you are capable of becoming is the soul role of life”. Lawson wants everyone to become the best version of themselves. He wants people to continue challenging themselves to be anything more than America can teach you.

One revolving question I kept coming back to during and after Lawson’s lecture was due to his statement about Vincent Harding, who states that, “[he] is a citizen of a country that does not yet exist”. This quotation struck me as it made me question what Lawson and Harding have envisioned for the future. Lawson discusses that we all need to come together and show the world what we each have to offer. With this, I would like to know what Lawson would say to people who have chosen violence as their way of dealing with life’s struggles. I wonder if he would attempt to talk them out of it or simply to get a better understanding of why they chose that route. Another question I would have for Lawson is about his view of the government and if he favors or disfavors the laws citizens are taught to abide by. Mentioned previously Lawson makes an statement that people should become anything more than America can teach you. I wonder if Lawson feels that the government is what is causing people to be violent or if it simply needs to be changed to eliminate non-violent acts. I would like to hear his views on the government and various other factors that go into creating violence or non-violence. Overall, Rev. James Lawson II’s lecture helped inspire the community to pursue or continue living a non-violent lifestyle.

– Shannen Mager

Rev. James Lawson Workshop

Last Tuesday, April 21, 2015, I attended a workshop on nonviolence and peacebuilding in the AfterWords Café at Reeves Library. It was an honor to sit in on Rev. James Lawson’s workshop and learn ways to use nonviolence to fight for social justice and resolve conflicts peacefully.  I learned that non-violence is the science of social change, the science of how you manage conflicts and disasters. It is a force more powerful. Rev. Lawson mentioned that non-violence is not pacifism because pacifism is rooted in the notion that Jesus was an absolutist about violence. Gandhi coined the term non-violence because he did not like pacifism; he felt that it was inadequate.

A wonderful take-away message I understood from Rev. Lawson’s workshop was when he mentioned exactly how you can change even the most conflicting problems without multiplying animosity. He says first you must treat each other as you want to be treated. When you encounter a situation you must focus and be sure you know what you are talking about, let it inform you, then begin to talk within a group systematically. See if together you can create a plan, preparing each other by working where the tension and conflicts are. He says you must surround and approach the problem with others and develop a plan of action. Non-violence can be practiced in four simple steps: focus, negotiation, direct action, and follow up on the issue of concern.

There may not be one single plan for every city. There is no global plan to end poverty or hunger in the United States. Change must begin in the local population for others to see it and follow. Violence is a learned business, like racism. Rev. Lawson made a good point that he does not believe human nature is the issue. We are conditioned by our societies and sometimes even our families. Considering how deeply embedded violence is into our society, Rev. Lawson tells us it will take much systematic effort to see change. Deeply embedded conflicts may even take two or three generations of effort to notice a change.

Amongst our circle of students, professors, and community members in the AfterWords Café, one individual asked what we must do to begin to practice non-violence, how can we get involved? Rev. Lawson says that any activist who wants change must give attention to literature about non-violence and apply it in their own situations. One powerful statement that sparked a desire within me to start thinking more about what change I would like to see in our society was the following, “the victims of exploitation should recognize they have the power to change”.

Rev. Lawson is a very powerful speaker. I left the room feeling motivated and hopeful for America’s future. In order to see change in a world full of violence we must build “community unions” and work as a team to overcome the animosity. For example, war has never worked. Rev. Lawson made a great point that in World War I America fought to secure democracy and failed to fulfill the promise. Instead we faced a bloody war and many lives were lost. The judicial system itself must be changed. I realized from the workshop that many forms of tyranny have existed side by side and put in place deliberately by power that make decisions, all of which structures must be changed through Rev. Lawson’s four steps of non-violence.

-Kayla Bryant

Rev. James Lawson

Reverend James Lawson, a revered figure, a living legend, a man who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and even influenced King about Gandhi and his teachings of non-violence, which was a monumental force used during the Civil Rights Era, was such an honor and pleasure to have at Moravian College.   His speech given on April 23rd seemed as if we too were in the making of history, listening to his teachings revolving around non-violence, activism, and starting movements. Moreover, it was a privilege to hear Rev. Lawson talk these past couple of days.

“Chaos or Community” Where do we go from here?” was his last speech for the duration of his stay at Moravian College, held at Prosser Auditorium, and I would say was definitely a remarkable, memorable and strong way to finish his visit.

He began with a great, warm felt introduction by saying, truly his stay gave him a sense of community again and how he greatly appreciated it here. He said that we, as a people, are very much “alive,” and how humans have the capability to be “alive.”  He briefly mentioned his time in prison (as a result to his objection of conscription on the Korean War and anti-war beliefs) where he spent several months. He met and discussed with murderers, thieves, and different types of criminals, but in fact said, “They were all still ‘alive’ and very ‘human,’ and after leaving prison he spent the next 3 years in India where he encountered people originating from various customs,religions, and ethnicities and how they too are very ‘human’ and very much ‘alive.’ These statements to me insinuated his notion of equality, and despite our different backgrounds or walks of life, in the end we are all human beings.

The title of his speech was derived from a book by Martin Luther King Jr. written in 1967. “A theme to represent the non-direct action we call the Civil Rights Movement. A question King raised for all of us.” Lawson gave justice and a new narrative to the Civil Rights Movement. He debunked many myths and ideals about how the society portrays the history of the Civil Rights Movement today, and stated that “ it has some racist  and underbelly tones” and how it is mostly remembered as “something that black people wanted to accomplish.”  The Civil Rights was not just a black struggle but was an omnibus struggle.

Today, the Civil Rights Movement is not given as much recognition and detailed accounts of the struggle leaders and activists encountered to reach various common goals for the society. The Civil Rights movement paved the way for not only black people but other minorities, such as women, Hispanics, Asians, Indians and etc. It brought a consciousness to the American public about “personal freedom” and how freedom should be for all people, and it changed the face of a whole nation. The Civil Rights movement is also detached from being a part of American history.

According to Lawson, the Civil Rights Movement should be synonymous with names such as the “Black Freedom Movement or 2nd American Revolution” but unfortunately it isn’t.  He implied that there should be a 3rd revolution and the Civil Rights Movement is not over. The governmental system is still disadvantaging people such as minorities through systemic forms of oppression such as Mass Incarceration, Poverty, Homelessness and etc.

Lawson gave inspirational advice into how we can be the change we want to see or overcome.  His essential elements of teaching was,“You are somebody, each person has the power and influence or capacity to make a change. You are a human being, you have life, love and power, use it in conjunction with others and you can do great things.”   He mentioned that Representative John Lewis, who was a young man when listening to his teachings, who later played a significant role on the march at Selma and the Civil Rights Movement wrote in his memoir that Rev. Lawson saved his life, but Lawson disagreed to that claim by explaining that we ourselves have the power to save our own lives. “We are the salt, we are the light, we have the energy of the universe…”

He also stated that, “The beginning place for change is to realize that nothing is comprehensible to your life. That we all must envision a plan. We must work towards the struggle we may not see, set an agenda to dismantle the tyranny, and provide the space to do the work of justice.”

He encouraged the audience by telling us that being bystanders will not dissolve racism. We must take part and dismantle the four major institutionalized ideologies that influence decision making in the United States: racism, sexism, violence, plantation capitalism. That in order to reach the common goal of equality those ideologies need to be banished. “We can not artificially make peace, because the roots of race are so embedded in society. We’re not going to make peace until we dismantle those ideologies.”

A great lesson from that speech that had such great meaning  is the story of the young boy.  A young boy (around the age of 16) was severely beaten and suffered critical injuries, including a concussion while participating in the march, and was sent to the hospital. While Lawson was narrating the story most would think that the boy would be filled with rage, vengeance and anger, but Lawson said that the young boy said in response to his injuries, “I love my enemies…I know they hate me and I took a bad beating but I got my dignity now and I’m not going to let anyone take it from me.” This was very inspiring to hear, in a world filled with hate, this young boy who probably faced a near death experience still has hope and ambition.

This depicted to me what is missing in our future generational leaders and students. A sense of resilience, which needs to be adapted for a successful journey to create an effective change in society.

Listening to a living legend, such as himself allowed such an in-depth understanding and perspective for the Civil Rights Movement, and greater reasoning and rationale for this movement. He left us with posing questions, “What are we going to do for the next generation?” Implying that humanity’s fate is in our hands, and like what King said it’s either co-existence or co-annihilation.

– Victoria Alukpe