Dr. Glenn Paige, virtually an unknown in most of the world, is sorely needed in Chicago (to name just one American city with a sorry history of violent deaths), in Syria, in Egypt, in Iraq and other trouble spots.
Who is Glenn Paige? An article in Sunday’s New York Times described him as a “cherub-faced retired political science professor” who lives in Honolulu. And he’s having a big impact on young people who have grown up in an environment of almost perpetual violence.
In 2002, his textbook, called “Nonkilling Global Political Science,” was published, and because it has been translated into Swahili, its message is being taught to more than 200 pupils in the Glenn Paige Nonkilling School in a village in Congo, an African nation that — like so many others — has long been plagued by war, genocides, and perpetual political violence.
In the past two decades, it has been estimated that as many as 6 million people were killed in Congo and neighboring Rwanda.
The main ideas of Paige’s book are also being explained to unschooled adults in the Congo village. Bishop Mabwe Lucien of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God churches in Congo described Paige’s concept as “new and revolutionary” and added that “nobody in the region had heard these ideas.”
In fact, the bishop continued, upon being exposed to the training program “the hands of assassins were raised to denounce killing.”
The bishop founded the Center for Global Nonkilling-Great Lakes Africa. He hired trainers who belong to nonprofit groups who have spread the center’s message to people in 1,100 villages and towns, distributed 4,500 books and persuaded 30,000 others to work for a nonkilling society. This, he said, has caused the level of violence to drop.
The concept of a “nonkilling world” is bold and at least comes close to being unbelievable. But in Congo and other parts of Africa, it seems to be working. And if it is working there, might it not be worth considering elsewhere, including here in the United States?
There were 500 murders in Chicago in 2012, but Chicago is by no means the only American city where homicides are a plague on what is supposed to be a civil society. The FBI listed 14 others that reported more than 100 murders last year.
But while murder may be the problem here in the United States, there are other kinds of killings occurring every day elsewhere in this troubled world. Usually the targets are “the other” — members of rival tribes or ethnic groups, different religions or competing political factions.
Iraq is a good example. Just this year, estimates of civilian deaths from violence there range from 114,000 to 125,000. Mostly, these killings are driven by the bitter religious and political rivalries between the two main branches of Islam, Sunni and Shia. Paige describes a “nonkilling world” as one without killing, threats to kill, or conditions conducive to killing — and one in which there is no dependence on killing or the threat of killing to produce change.
When university presses rejected his book, Paige was undeterred. He posted it on the Internet and gave it away, free. Within five years it was translated into 15 languages. Today it is available in 30 languages.
Given its success in Congo, it seems reasonable to believe it might be useful elsewhere, even if it saves just a few lives. There’s no downside.