social change | March 11, 2013

Non-Violence Worked For Srdja Popovic In Serbia—Could It Work In Syria?

Social change speaker and Otpor! founder Srdja Popovic believes in the power of non-violent protest to overthrow autocrats. That's why a recent piece in The Daily Beast has recommended that Syrian activists "work with people like Popovic, to see that they cannot respond to Bashar with the violence being heaped on them." Recently, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad refused to leave the capital city of Damascus—unless made to do so by force. He claims that many of the accusations surrounding his involvement in the explosive conflict in the nation have been greatly exaggerated. With the situation escalating and becoming increasingly more hostile and volatile, The Daily Beast reports that many of the non-violent attempts to overthrow Bashar al-Assad have wavered—and citizens are beginning to take up arms.

Even still, the author (Janine di Giovanni of The Council on Foreign Relations) feels hopeful that a non-violent solution could have been reached. After all, she writes, it worked for Popovic in Serbia. "Nothing impressed me more than [Popovic]'s and his colleagues' dogged persistence to get rid of a murderer who brought his country into five bloody wars," she wrote in the piece. Further, she commends Popovic's use of "people power" to solve violent conflict—saying that banding the nation together could help resolve some of their problems with less bloodshed.

In his talks, Popovic recounts his own experiences employing non-violent conflict resolution techniques, and explains how to apply them to other situations around the world. Inspiring and entertaining, he injects a refreshing element of humor to his presentations. While he discusses serious subject matter, he approaches it from a fun and lighthearted angle—arguing that laughter can be a powerful tool in social movements. Non-violent, people-centric movements can create positive change, and Popovic shows audiences how his approach can make the world a more peaceful place.

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arts and pop culture | March 10, 2013