Asia West Pacific

Building a New Society in the Shell of the Old

By Subhash Chandra

Anand Niketan in Sewagram Ashram in India where Gandhi did his Nai Talim (New Education) as a form of Constructive program, which continues till date except some years of halt. Photo by Subhash, 2019

Jane Goodall- a world renowned naturalist- says that we are ‘finished’ if we do not change after the Coronavirus. She is one of many who are indicating the degenerative way of our living dominated by individualism, consumerism, and materialism, and inviting us to rethink and transform ourselves, our cultures and systems.

This year we are celebrating Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. He says there are three pillars of social transformation- personal transformation, political action, and a constructive program. This speaks to many of us even today when we think of how to take steps towards the change we need. 

In my experience, Creating Cultures of Peace training helps us in personal transformation. It un-blinds us from our privileges, challenges us to live based on conscience, and encourages us to support others who seek to live nonviolently. It asks us to take challenging actions in our daily lives like ‘make friends not enemies with people who are similar and different’ and ‘use what is needed and share the rest fairly.’

When we say ‘no’ to a violent, unjust and exploitative system or culture, what do we say ‘yes’ to? This ‘yes’ is what is known as a constructive program. Criticizing, protesting, or separating from a system or culture is not enough. We need to model the change we want to live. A constructive program is about building a new society in the shell of old. There is extremely limited literature available on forming a constructive program. Therefore, a team of War Resisters’ International (WRI) including Subhash- FPT-AWP Contact in Nepal- is writing a book on a constructive program. The book is hoped to be available in public by the middle of next year. 

We invite you to ponder and take initiative for your own approach to a regenerative life during and after COVID-19. Ask- how to approach transforming ourselves? What constructive program(s) can we initiate as individuals, families, and communities?

Please contact me should you wish to continue further conversation in this matter at subhash.peace.nepal@gmail.com. I would be delighted to correspond with you directly.