What a privilege to spend the day with Chaiwat Satha-Anand while in Thailand.
Dr. Satha-Anand is Professor of Political Science – Thammasat University. Among other titles, his is the Chairperson of the Strategic Non-Violence Commission.
There were many reasons it was interesting to hear and learn from Dr. Satha-Anand – and I learned much from the depth of his “moral” and “peace” experience, teaching, research and life.
One of several interesting things that stood out to me about his story, though – had to do with his motivations and interests in studying peace. Dr. Satha-Anand was educated in Thailand in the 1970s when Thailand experienced its own levels of political turmoil, including the fact that Dr. Satha-Anand was a student at Thammasat University in 1976 when the October 6th massacre took place. As Dr. Satha-Anand said, “This event shaped my life.” Dr. Satha-Anand went on to study at the University of Hawaii – gleaning from Dr. Glenn D. Paige from a course entitled “Non-Violent Political Alternatives” Dr. Satha-Anand stated, “I came to learn a little more about non-violence and wrote my dissertation on it.” He returned to Thammastat university where he now teaches. He quipped with a smile how, how later students told him that his dissertation on “Violence and Non-Violence in Politics” is published under "Military Studies." With a laugh he said, “What a surprise they’ll get when they read my dissertation!”
What stood out to me about Dr. Satha-Anand personally has to do with the fact that in his own country, in his own culture, in his own circumstances and in his own situations, he has had to discern how to use and apply the practices of peace in conflict based situations. For Dr. Satha-Anand, activism for peace need not be based on faith based convictions, but on reason – the moral ascendancy and higher value of peace!
Dr. Satha-Anand – a muslim, taught me about peace perspectives from the Buddha.
“Fighting for peace in a world blinded by violence, weapons of light are needed. These "weapons" include wisdom to unlock the complexity of causes which give rise to violence and to make sound judgments valuing life; space where voices of victims with their tremendous moral authority could be heard; courage in an unyielding search for nonviolent alternatives; and sustained capability in the hearts of common people to feel tenderness and compassion both for loved ones and humanity in general.” (From Chaiwat Satha-Anand – “9/11, 9/20 and Gandhi's Puzzle: Fighting Postmodern Terror/Modern Warfare with Peaceful Alternatives”)