Ten years ago today, I started on a journey of nonviolence
On this day ten years ago, a small decision set me on a path that would define the next ten years of my life. The decision? To attend the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking’s fall retreat, a workshop on nonviolence led by Pace e Bene staff members.
I had been contemplating visiting the Center for Peacemaking ever since I heard of its opening, but I was a bit timid as a freshman and let this get the best of me. When I returned to campus for my sophomore year, the first event notice I saw was for the nonviolence workshop. I promptly wrote it down in my planner and made myself a promise to attend.
I showed up at the event alone, unsure of what to expect. I had been involved in community service, service learning, and social justice projects before, but I never explicitly studied nonviolence and peacemaking.
A small cadre of students welcomed me and shared how excited they were that I came. At lunchtime, they invited me to join them. Though we had just met that morning, it already felt like we had been friends for years. The Center is one of the most welcoming spaces I have ever walked into.
By the end of the workshop, I was hooked. The day ended with a reading of Cesar Chavez’s Prayer of the Farmworkers’ Struggle. The last few lines of the prayer — “Let us remember those who have died for justice; For they have given us life. Let us love even those who hate us; So we can change the world” — captivated my imagination and curiosity. Ultimately, it convinced me to join the student nonviolence study group that my new friends told me about.
The Center for Peacemaking quickly became my favorite place on campus. For the remainder of my time as a student, I visited the Center every week, almost every day, and sometimes multiple times a day.
While at the Center, I met many friends, learned from community leaders and activists, and started to explore what it means to commit to nonviolence as a lifestyle. My time with the Center for Peacemaking profoundly shaped my life. It was the highlight of my student experience at Marquette.
I’ve been privileged to work at the Center for Peacemaking for the past five and a half years. It has been fulfilling to be a part of our mission to explore the power of nonviolence. I’m humbled by how many students, like me, walk through the Center’s doors to find community, experience personal transformation, and catch courage to live out their faith and practice active nonviolence.
The Center for Peacemaking’s mission isn’t only a statement that resides on a piece of paper in a file cabinet. The Center’s mission is alive. It’s alive in the hearts and minds of alumni, students, and faculty. It’s alive in our local and international partnerships with communities and organizations. It’s alive in the relationships and friendships with all of our supporters.
I can’t believe that ten years have passed since my first involvement at the Center for Peacemaking. Over this past decade, my understanding of nonviolence has grown infinitely deeper. And yet, today — just as it was ten years ago — I remain in awe of the transformational power of nonviolence.
Chris Jeske, Business Administration ’11, is the associate director of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking.
For more about the Center for Peacemaking’s ten-year anniversary campaign, visit http://mu.edu/peacemaking/anniversary.php