Transforming September 11 into a Message of Hope and Healing

This event took place 6 years ago, but it’s message is well worth repeating. 

On September 11, 2006, New Yorkers and Americans in 20 states marked the 100 year anniversary of Gandhi’s decision to use nonviolence. New Yorkers for a Department of Peace (NY-DOP), in cooperation with Sony Pictures, organized a one-day-only theatrical showing of the movie Gandhi. Movie screenings, held at the Regal Cinema near the World Trade Center site and other theaters across the country, included the debut of a short film, Satyagraha. The title is the name that Gandhi chose for his nonviolent campaign and translates as “the pursuit of truth.” The film focuses on the power of nonviolence and features Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, and George Houser, a civil rights activist and founding member of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality.

To kick off the screenings, NY-DOP organized a panel discussion at the Regal Cinema, which according to Julianne Nicholson (Law and Order) was “poignant and moving.” Anthony Aversano, who lost his father on September 11, 2001 quoted Gandhi saying, “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.” JoJo Brim, a music industry executive, challenged the audience to “make peace sexy” through entertainment. Kamran Elahian explained how the Gandhi Project uses the movie Gandhi, dubbed in Arabic, to educate Palestinians on the power of nonviolence. Monica Willard shared that the United Nations had originally slated September 11, 2001 as the International Day of Peace. Since then, however, the UN has moved it to September 21 and marks the day annually. Marie Ukeye, a Rwandan genocide survivor, concluded by reflecting on the fact that humans are very “successful” at organizing violence and considered how different the world would be if all that energy were focused on organizing peace.

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