People often use the words peace and nonviolence interchangeably. Though related, the two have different meanings.
Peace may refer to a tranquil state of being; a quality of life characterized by equity and fairness; or the absence of war and other violent behavior. Nonviolence may refer to a lifestyle, a philosophy, or a strategy for promoting and achieving peace.
Throughout history, men and women who care about their fellow human beings—and the environments they share—have used nonviolent strategies to achieve equity and fairness and to prevent or end war. The Dayton International Peace Museum calls these men and women peace heroes. The Museum defines a peace hero as a person who cares about the world and its inhabitants and strives for positive change through nonviolence.
Through its activities, exhibits, and events, the Museum offers non-threatening opportunities to examine peace, nonviolence, and heroism in historic and contemporary contexts. Consistent with its nonpartisan spirit of inclusiveness, the Museum welcomes and respects different points of view while encouraging the practice of finding common ground, creating a sense of unity, and building consensus.
For centuries, people have used stories to impart values, teach life lessons, and present role models worthy of emulation.
At the Dayton International Peace Museum, storytelling is the medium and peace heroes are the focus. The Museum is dedicated to gathering, preserving, and telling the stories of peace heroes. Whether legendary or unsung, peace heroes demonstrate compassion for others, a desire to effect positive change, courage to speak out and/or take nonviolent action, and a willingness to assume the risks associated with taking a stand.
Whether on site, online, or on the streets of Dayton, the Museum brings the stories of peace heroes to life.
Museum volunteers are transforming the Peace Heroes Room into a multimedia, interactive exhibit space devoted to well-known peace heroes such as Mahatma Gandhi and to those lesser known such as Ted Studebaker (a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War) and Sister Dorothy Stang (a human rights and environmental activist).
The Invent Peace Laboratory on the third floor provides space for conducting digital interviews of everyday people who have accomplished extraordinary things through the power of love and nonviolence. The stories shared in the Peace Heroes Room and collected in the Invent Peace Laboratory will be available to wider audiences on the Museum website.
A major event for the Museum is its annual peace walk. The walk is a family friendly, team event. It is currently a collaboration between the 21st Century Peace Literacy Foundation and the Dayton International Peace Museum, both located in Dayton, Ohio. It has been endorsed by the Rotary Club of Dayton and the mayor of Dayton, a Mayors for Peace city since 2007. The walk was inspired by the first Peace Heroes Walk held May 2, 2015, in Dayton. The inaugural event brought together more than 700 people of diverse ages, races, and faith traditions to celebrate their role models of peace and inspire a new generation of peace leaders.
The Dayton International Peace Museum welcomes people of all ages. An interactive children’s room on the second floor allows children to play, sing, and learn about other cultures. On Saturday mornings, volunteers conduct a storytelling hour for children. Each summer, the Museum offers a Peace Camp for youth ages 3 to 10. On-site programs for adults include meditation groups, a monthly Great Discussions group, and lectures throughout the year on a variety of topics.
In addition to permanent exhibits, the Museum hosts three to five temporary exhibits each year. Topics of recent temporary exhibits include guns, immigration, and Gandhi’s Way.
In 2014, the Museum presented the Peace Labyrinth — an exhibition of quilts depicting the “Golden Rule” in more than 17 faith- and conscience-based traditions. Volunteers trained through the new Docent Program are happy to provide guided tours to individuals as well as groups. Use this website to schedule a group tour for either adults or children.
In 2014, the Museum installed “Peace Station 208,” a gathering space where visitors can enjoy coffee, chocolates, and conversation.
The Museum’s outreach efforts include an Internet radio station; programming includes digital interviews conducted by local teens as they ask people from around the world: “What does peace look like?” The Museum also has volunteers willing to travel to other locations and make presentations on peace-related topics. To request a volunteer speaker, call 937-227-3223.
The Museum believes that a culture of peace includes green energy production, and offsite, the Museum’s Green Energy Visitor Center teaches visitors about alternative energy sources. Located near Brookville, Ohio, on the farm of Ralph Dull, the Center includes wind turbines, solar panels, and the only hydrogen “filling station” in the state.
Nonviolence comes at a price as does war. Lives may be lost, and many years may pass before nonviolent strategies produce their desired results.
But the belief that war solves problems is not supported by science. For example, research by Maria Stephan and Erica Chenoweth has found that nonviolent resistance is twice as likely as violent resistance to achieve peace and social change.
The movements listed below helped bring equity and justice to greater numbers of people. Although they may have been accompanied or interrupted by violence, these movements are generally considered successful examples of nonviolent efforts to promote social change.
- Women’s Rights Movement, USA, 1848-1920
- Gay Rights Movement, International, 1897-present
- Anti-Apartheid Movement, South Africa, 1912-1992
- Independence Movement, India, 1885-1947
- Danish Resistance Movement, Denmark, 1940-1945
- Civil Rights Movement, USA, 1909-1968
- Anti-War Movement, USA, 1964-1973
- Solidarity Movement, Poland, 1980-1989
- Fall of the Berlin Wall and Reunification of Germany, 1988-1990
The Museum defines a peace hero as a person who cares about the world and its inhabitants and strives for positive change through nonviolence.