Monday, January 29, 2018

Having hard conversations about confederate monuments



Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 2:30pm

Eagle's Landing in the Student Center

Join presenters Dr. Susan Glisson (Ph.D. in American Studies) and Charles Tucker, the co-founders of Sustainable Equity, for an in-depth yet informal conversation about confederate statues, what they mean and communicate, and what alternatives exist. They will share their experiences from over 20 years of working to reduce inequities in the South and their realization that these fights over divisive symbols have become surrogates for the difficult discussions we're afraid to have about how to dismantle racial barriers that have been fortified over generations. 



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Glitter in the Dirt

By Emily Wirtz

Gathering around the sweet and warm-hearted Israeli woman, the group of 41 adventurous Ashlanders chose their playground seats. Swings, slides, stumps, and low brick walls supported our tired bodies as we sat in the heat to listen to the tragic story of modern Israel.



When we arrived, our tour guide Efrat pointed to the various small concrete buildings scattered around the community. “When you get off this bus,” she explained, “if you hear a siren, you have 10 to 15 seconds to get into one of those buildings.” A few of us giggled and through side glances. She can’t be serious. “You are two and a half miles from Gaza, and that’s how long it would take a rocket to get here.” We shut up.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Collective Violence and Kneeling for the National Anthem

By Craig Hovey

Let’s think about NFL players “taking the knee” in terms of how societies respond to their acts of collective violence. In recent years, I have been shaped in my thinking about violence and nonviolence by the work of the late anthropologist RenĂ© Girard. According to Girard, societies are sustained by collective violence which they must not only justify but also consider and remember as sacred. “Our violence is righteous and has brought us peace and has brought us together,” will be a typical conviction. There will be fierce opposition to anyone who challenges the sacredness of a society’s violence.

For some, the national anthem of the United States isn’t just about our country, but about our sacred acts of violence: our wars and those who fight in them. Singing the national anthem together in public commemorates not just our unity as a nation, but the means by which we were brought together. Not to stand for the anthem, then, produces a deep anxiety for a society used to marking the sacredness of our violence in a way that goes unquestioned.

When NFL players kneel during the national anthem to draw attention to racial violence, the effect is twofold. First, it has the effect of undermining the unity and peace brought by sacred violence that we thought we were celebrating. The sacredness of this moment with this song cannot withstand dissenters whose actions are meant to say we’re not as united nor as peaceful as most have wanted to believe. Second, kneeling draws attention to forms of collective violence other than our wars (that is, white violence against blacks) and which our society today can usually sacralize only awkwardly and incompletely, usually opting to try to ignore it by drawing attention to other things.

The big professional sports are some of the most important “other things” that are meant to distract us from our collective disunity and the violences we have a harder time covering over in sacredness. The faux rivalries that electrify fans—superficial loyalties for one team over another—allow a society an outlet for energies that might erupt into violence in other settings. It is “bread and circuses” appeasement of the populace. The more violent a sport is, the better this works. When some members spoil this mechanism by interjecting other, racial rivalries into the very sports that were meant to help us ignore them, at least on game day, it has the effect of interfering with one of the deeply important social functions these sports are meant to play. The raw reality of our society’s collective violence is uncomfortably put on public display shorn of all sacredness. So these actions are accused of being both unsportsmanlike and unpatriotic.


Craig Hovey is executive director of the Ashland Center for Nonviolence.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Conversation about Historical Context in Confederate Monuments: Who Are We?



Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 2:30pm

Eagle's Landing in the Student Center

Join presenters Dr. Susan Glisson (Ph.D. in American Studies) and Charles Tucker, the co-founders of Sustainable Equity, for an in-depth yet informal conversation about confederate statues, what they mean and communicate, and what alternatives exist. They will share their experiences from over 20 years of working to reduce inequities in the South and their realization that these fights over divisive symbols have become surrogates for the difficult discussions we're afraid to have about how to dismantle racial barriers that have been fortified over generations. 


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Nonviolence in Theory and Practice Conference - Call for Papers

Proposals Due October 15, 2017

Multi-disciplinary conference will be held Saturday, February 24, 2018 on the campus of Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio

Nonviolence includes a wide variety of philosophies, theologies, practices, and strategies. It commands different levels of commitment from adherents, whether tied to absolute and unconditional core beliefs or tactical and ad hoc methods for achieving social and political change. Some advocates link nonviolence to convictions about the way things are: to wager everything on it is to experiment with truth itself; its practitioners are working with the grain of the universe. Others point to the success of nonviolent movements, greater justice for vulnerable groups, and more equitable arrangements of and access to power, often also linking nonviolence with democratic participation.

Whether primarily thought of as a kind of philosophy or an approach to political arrangements, reflection on nonviolence leads to a range of questions that are being taken up in today’s world, often with great urgency. What are the sources of nonviolence, both philosophically and historically? How do different approaches to nonviolence (such as Eastern versus Western) differ from each other? How do these different perspectives learn from each other? What about when nonviolence fails or appears to fail? What are the most effective ways to promote nonviolent alternatives to retributive responses to injustice? How should we evaluate the outcomes of violence and other conflicts in light of these alternatives?

The goal of this one day conference is to address questions such as these by displaying and analyzing many of the ways that people, communities, and traditions think about and embrace nonviolence. In order to enhance the discussion, we are seeking presentations from a variety of academic disciplines. Both theoretical and practical considerations are welcome.

Possible topics for individual papers and panels might include (but are not limited to):
  • Historical evaluations of nonviolent tactics being used and/or important leaders and advocates in nonviolent movements
  • Philosophies of nonviolence and/or the key figures who have advanced them
  • Religious, spiritual, or theological perspectives
  • Histories of development and debate over the meaning and purpose of nonviolence
  • Sociological or political case studies
  • Ethical debates about the moral meaning and purpose of nonviolence
  • Nonviolence and specific moral issues such as capital (and other) punishment, suicide, war, abortion, immigration, euthanasia, health care, the economy, race, gender, and sexuality
  • Nonviolence in the workplace and at home
  • Nonviolence as a personal or communal virtue and how it is developed
  • Practical training / workshop
Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted using the online submission form no later than October 15, 2017. Presenters should plan on a 35-minute paper or presentation with an additional 10 minutes for questions and discussion. We also welcome panel proposals.

Presenters are welcome to engage in technical and academic debates, but they should avoid jargon and be aware that the conference audience will be diverse, including scholars from multiple disciplines, practitioners from many fields, students from various backgrounds, and community members.

The conference organizers are considering publishing a selection of the papers, depending on submissions. Please indicate in your proposal whether you are willing to produce a version of your presentation for publication. Please note that papers for publication will be longer than versions used for presentation (publication versions will usually be around 7,000 words in length).

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Gun Culture Conference Opened My Eyes

By Jessica James

Going into the fields of both social work and criminal justice, in some sort of manner I will have to deal with guns on a daily basis. Whether I get a job where I will be permitted to open carry a weapon or even if I have to deal with a suicidal patient who has a cabinet full of guns at home, I knew in some sort of fashion, firearms and guns would always play a part in my life. And this is one of many reasons I wanted to attend the Ashland Center for Nonviolence conference about Understanding our Gun Culture. This conference opened my eyes to a lot of issues relating to gun rights and gun control.

The first night of the conference, as a part of the pre-conference panel, I heard a lot about the issues of gun control and gun rights, specifically relating to this past election.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

When Violence Starts at Home

By Maria Cardona

As kids, many of us were taught about “stranger danger.” Our parents told us that if anyone picked on us, we had to tell an adult, that hurting people was wrong, and that there are just certain things you can’t do. For many of us, home is a safe place away from bullies, toxic relationships, and the cruel realities of the world we live in. However, what happens when violence starts at home?

What do you do when your dad’s temper ends in bruises covered by sweaters and scarves? What do you do when your mom’s drinking habits end in a barrage of insults? What do you do when your cousin slips into your room at night and touches you – but don’t you dare say a word because that’s not nice. What about when you become your husband’s or your wife’s punching bag – when their hands and/or their words injure you? What about when you’re so depressed and locked inside yourself that you hurt yourself and pray to die every night because your life has become unbearable?

How do we talk to kids, our friends, our neighbors – our own family and tell them that there is safety when they live in a state of constant torment and fear? What can we do for that trembling child who’s molested every night? What can we do for that battered woman or man who’s threatened into staying? What can we do for those who drink away their pain and those who have to face their drunken wrath time after time?

It’s difficult to say because victims of domestic violence are so good at hiding it. They’ll draw up excuses to explain away bruises and we’ll be skeptical but we’ll believe them because it’s easier than facing the truth. It’s easier than realizing your neighbor is aggressive, it’s easier than admitting that there’s a rapist inside your family (maybe even inside your home), and it sure as heck is easier to pretend that when the alcohol is speaking, nothing is said in earnest.

It’s harder when the victims are children because they don’t understand and because the power dynamics are so great that they become powerless in any situation. How can a child explain what’s going on if they don’t even possess the vocabulary and the comprehension of what’s being done to them? Plus, under the threat of upsetting their parents and being bad kids, they do whatever the grown up tells them because they’ve been taught not to disobey. What power can we give an innocent child facing danger at home?

And for those battered men and women, how do we encourage them to leave when they have everything to lose? If they don’t have a job or a home of their own – where do they go when they leave? How do they avoid being a burden to others? And if they have children – yes, leaving is good because your children won’t think abuse is okay but leaving is worse because they lose a parent, a home, stability, and many times an income.

It’s hard to talk about this and it’s hard to come up with viable solutions because what seems so obvious becomes unclear when you’re at the mercy of fear. To many of these questions, I have no clear answer. I think we need to come together as a community and create answers. Offer our neighbors a home if theirs is broken. Really listen and read between the lines. Don’t let bruises and scars be explained away. Tell children that adults aren’t always doing the right thing and that the danger doesn’t always come from a stranger. Remind a person that being intoxicated is not an excuse to hurt yourself or others.

We cannot allow our victims to stay victims. We need to help them rise above – to become survivors. We need to remind them of their beauty and their worth. We need to validate their experience whether it happened today, 2 weeks ago, 6 months ago, or 20 years ago – because it happened and it counts.


Maria Cardona is a senior at Ashland University and an intern with the Ashland Center for Nonviolence.