The Gandhi International Institute for Peace got its start on a day of devastating violence.
“The idea to start the Institute began on Sept. 11,” explains founder and president Raj Kumar. “I was very saddened to hear that thousands of innocent people were killed.”
A longtime follower of Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings, Kumar gave a speech about nonviolence following the attacks: “I said that day that this is the time to bring teaching about nonviolence back to the modern world.”
To achieve that goal, he brought together an eclectic group of scholars, professors, doctors and leaders from churches and temples to form what he calls a “universal family” of community members dedicated to promoting peace. Apart from Kumar, the Institute is comprised of about 30 people and includes a few different committees.
Since then, the institute has hosted a range of events, including the sixth annual International Day of Nonviolence. This year’s event took place Oct. 2 Gandhi’s birthday and brought together various spiritual groups, students and cultural organizations to participate in discussions of peace. The institute also provides a breadth of services year-round, including conflict resolution consultation, counseling and behavior management training. Plus, the institute focuses on educational endeavors for students. A large part of what motivates Kumar is his desire to encourage young people to practice nonviolence as a way to resolve conflict. It facilitates an educational exchange program with schools and offers courses on nonviolence.
“We have been carrying out the mission to promote peace and educate youngsters about nonviolence. There is so much bullying and violence happening in the school system and crimes happening in the community,” he says.
Kumar believes that resolving conflict without violence is possible, and hopes that he can spread this idea to others.
“I want to counter negative philosophies of violence with our philosophy that peace is possible ... Doing this kind of community service brings me joy,” he says. “It lifts up my spirits.”
For more information or to get involved, visit gandhianpeace.com.
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