Antidote to Alienation
By Adam Curle
This Article Summary written by: Tanya Glaser, Conflict Research Consortium
Adam Curle, "Antidote to Alienation," chap. in Another Way: Positive Response to Contemporary Violence, (Oxford: Jon Carpenter Publishing, 1995), pp.109-142
Curle discusses the Center for Peace, Nonviolence, and Human Rights in Osijek, Croatia and argues that it offers a model for dealing with modern sources of violence. Curle argues that much modern violence stems from peoples' alienation from their societies and from their sense of common humanity. Traditional forms of peacemaking, which focus on relative power, intervention, state's rights, diplomacy and negotiation, are not adequate approaches to the violence of alienation. To be effective, peacemaking must focus on restoring and preserving a sense of relatedness among people.
The Osijek Center was founded by a pair of local peace activists in 1992. By 1994 it had an active core membership of fifty people, mostly women. The founding members were concerned not only with the physical damage caused by the war, but also with the psychological damage. The people of Osijek, they found, were increasingly prone to demonize the enemy and to accept "the logic of war as the sole means of survival."[p. 115] The central goal of the Center is to "both stimulate and preserve the values on which harmony can eventually be restored."[p. 129] The main task of the Center was originally conceived as education. As the center became known publicly, it began to attract reports of human rights violations, and so its focus expanded. When Serb townspeople were threatened with illegal evictions by the Croatian military, Center members used nonviolent confrontation to protect them. The Center also provides legal counsel, and trains human rights officers. Center members have persevered in the face of threats. Center educational programs include training in nonviolent action for social change, and programs to help teachers heal their own war trauma, in order to then better help others. The Center also has a variety of programs designed to help refugees, such as a market gardening project, and sewing classes for women. These programs combine psychological healing with economic opportunities. The Center has established relations with other, international organizations and human rights groups, and is seeking ways to communicate with neighboring Serb territories.