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Aleksandr Andrevich, coordinator

When I first encountered this problem of violence, as well as the very loyal attitude to it that dominates society, I couldn’t help but ask myself a question. Why do we continue to live as if nothing is happening, knowing that the price of our tranquility is the fear of violence that we evoke in people, and that very violence itself — cruel, bloody, inhuman? Why does it not worry us? Why do we feel no pain?

Hi! My name is Aleksandr, I am the coordinator of the Leo Tolstoy Center for Nonviolence, which is devoted to nonviolence in its widest meaning: How to end our dependence on, and participation in, society’s collective crime — threats, murders, and mutilations.

Let me warn you right away: I am a student of nonviolence, and not a teacher. I am sharing my experiences with you, and that of others — successful and not successful. This is why your thoughtful and constructive comments are very welcome.

How did my own story start? All sorts of things played a role: growing up in the Sokolniki district between the beautiful Sokolniki Park and the notorious Matrosskaya Tishina detention center, my studies at the Bauman Technical University, becoming acquainted with the Gospels, working for the army, and the reading the nonfiction writings of Leo Tolstoy. At some point, I realized that there is no such thing as a civilian population. In any case, I personally am not part of that population. For that reason, in all that follows I am only speaking for myself.

I am a killer. I live in peace and tranquility — and every day of my tranquil, peacefu life, I am killing people or threatening them with murder. No, not personally ,and not with my own hands: I have special people who do this job for me. Here’s what I mean. For the “external enemy” — the army, the intelligence services and others. For the “internal enemy” — police, law enforcement agencies, etc. Thus, as soon as I contribute personally to their maintenance, I become, at a minimum, a passive accessory in bloody violence and threats, and at a maximum, a full participant.

But, in fact, there is such a thing as rejection of murder. It is not pacifism, not religious fanaticism, or anything like that. It is the first step to true nonviolence. I realized that I cannot disregard this unacceptably high price of my peaceful life: threatening and murdering people. I realized that this apparatus immediately cheapens the “peaceful” and well-maintained course of my life. I came to realize that I wanted to explore how to avoid being dependent on it and taking part in it, and how to stop ensuring my safety and the safety of those near and dear to me, by imposing fear and death on others. I wanted to start here and now, in my own life, without waiting on global changes in society.

What do I have to do to achieve this?

  • The first part, “to avoid being dependent on,” is pretty clear — it requires developing yourself. Change yourself, accept your close and faraway neighbors peacefully, stop depending on the results of other people’s work — the work that they are ready to defend with weapons in hand. It is difficult, it takes a long time, it is expensive, and, in my case, it often looks like “one step forward, two steps back,” but it is possible.
  • The second part, “do not take part in it,” turned out to be more complicated, because it is almost impossible not to participate in killings, when you are compelled by law to pay the army and police from each purchase of milk or bread, and military service is obligatory.

Nevertheless… I don’t want to be feared. I have the right not to kill people. More than that, it’s not only my right to not to kill, I MUST stop being dependent on killing and participating in it.

I am absolutely sure that people are capable of stopping violence in their lives. The strength and determination of their desire to stop this violence will determine the strength of their ability to do so.

Let’s learn Nonviolence together!

Aleksandr A.
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The Leo Tolstoy Center for Nonviolence, including its knowledge base and advice service, is provided on 'as is' basis and under the terms of agreement with its current implementation. The center is not affiliated with any organization, governmental or public. Opinions expressed on the website may differ from the views or opinions of experts, our own or others. Content sharing is allowed, but a link must be provided to the original source. The project’s core document is Nonviolence in Action: Methods and Approaches: eesti english français italiano lietuvių srpski български русский српски