Introducing Buddhist monks to non-violence…

IoC

Insight on Conflict [IoC] is a unique resource for everyone interested in the activities of grassroots peacebuilders. It provides access to the inspiring and valuable lessons of those living in conflict areas and working for peace. IoC provides comprehensive overviews of selected conflict areas and detailed information about organisations and initiatives working for peace in those areas.

I’ve been engaged off and on as a conflict resolution expert on the Insight on Conflict initiative by PeaceDirect for a little over a year now. Their beta website is online now, which is where I found an interesting initiative titled Peace Connectivity Programme for Religious Clergy.

A programme to introduce the Buddhist religous clergy to non-violent conflict transformation processes through providing training in English language, ICT and peace building skills.

Conducted by the Centre for Peace Building and Reconciliation it’s a fascinating initiative that when you first read it, sounds an oxymoron – teaching non-violent conflict transformation to Buddhist clergy brings to mind the old adage on carrying coals to Newcastle.

However, as the description of the initiative mentions:

The current voice of the Buddhist clergy is not favourable towards a non-violent solution to the ethnic conflict. The majority perceive the establishment of a dominant Sinhala-Buddhist ideology in the country as being crucial to safeguard the nation. The non-violent conflict transformation process so far in the country is seen as giving away the power and authority the Sinhala Buddhists have in the country. Since they are an influential group in the decision making process of the country in relation to the conflict, their voice for peace can make a difference in the pending war situation in the country. It is important for the Buddhist clergy to have exposure to non-violent conflict transformation strategies to be able to trust in such a process in Sri Lanka.

Therefore the project aims to provide the Buddhist clergy with awareness of new trends and mechanisms of conflict transformation. Teaching English, computer skills and peace building aim for this. Thorough this they would be able to have a wider exposure to the conflict transformation processes throughout the world and how non-violent conflict transformation strategies that are in alignment with Buddhism have been employed successfully in different contexts, as the movement of engaged Buddhism that was practiced in Vietnam and truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa.

Further the initiative expects to improve the Buddhist clergy’s familiarity with the Tamil culture and language through the Tamil language lessons.

This expects to mobilise the voice of Buddhist clergy for peace and through them, influence both the community and the policy making level.

The challenges facing anyone who tries to reach out to the Sangha in Sri Lanka to bring them more fully into the peace process as constructive social change agents are not insignificant, as this paper highlights.

To use ICT to facilitate this process is a novel idea and one that I will definitely keep my eye on.

See also:
Building peace through ICT – Ideas for practical ICT4Peace projects

4 comments on “Introducing Buddhist monks to non-violence…

  1. Jack Point
    November 16, 2006 at 11:45 am #

    Now who arethese silly fellows, these grass roots peacebuilders?

    Don’t they know that what what this nation wants, and what a large chunk of the electorate voted for is war? (okay, it may not have been a majority, god only knows how many people could not vote due to the tamering of the electoral register, but a pretty large chunk voted for war)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Sri Lanka: Introducing Buddhist Monks to Non Violence - November 16, 2006

    […] ICT for Peacebuilding on an initiative called Peace Connectivity Programme for Religious Clergy. “Conducted by the Centre for Peace Building and Reconciliation it’s a fascinating initiative that when you first read it, sounds an oxymoron – teaching non-violent conflict transformation to Buddhist clergy brings to mind the old adage on carrying coals to Newcastle.” Neha Viswanathan […]

  2. InfoShare Research Unit » Blog Archive » Weekend Consumption - February 23, 2007

    […] We also recall an earlier post on the ICT4Peace blog, run by Sanjana Hattotuwa, that dealt with teaching Buddhist monks non-violence through […]

  3. Map of local peacebuilding initiatives in Sri Lanka from Insight on Conflict « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - August 4, 2008

    […] at the grassroots in Sri Lanka. I first wrote about Insight on Conflict around two years ago (Introducing Buddhist monks to non-violence…) and it’s great to see how their web presence has evolved to now embrace tools like Google […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: