On October 13th, 2016, Honolulu celebrated the 22nd annual Men’s March Against Violence. This important event brought together over 1,000 members of the community: from social workers, to police officers and sheriffs; state legislators and other politicians, to high school students on Fall Break; members of the downtown business district, to University students taking a breather from their studies. As a mass, we gathered at the State Capitol and held signs, took photos, gave speeches, and told the world why it was necessary to gather our forces and speak out against domestic violence. The theme this year was “Finding Your Voice,” a call to action for those who continue to maintain silence in the face of this epidemic of violence plaguing our community. When the death toll mounts, and we as a state don’t say or do anything to prevent the next murder or suicide from occurring, we’re all partly complicit for the violence. When there are clear warning signs from our family and friends that help is needed, but we choose to ignore their pleas for aid, then we are failing these survivors of abuse. When a teen is trapped in an unhealthy or abusive dating relationship, and we write it off as “teenage love;” we are guilty of perpetuating that cycle of violence into the next generation.
Finding Your Voice is not just a one-day event; it is something each of us must continue to promote throughout our lives, 365 days a year. We must know how to speak back when violence occurs; promote equality and respect in all relationships to prevent that violence from spreading; and know what resources are available and how to access them. We cannot continue to allow silence and apathy to reign, we must challenge the world to properly assess, address, and redress this violence!
As long as intimate partner abuse continues – or ANY violence for that matter! – we must be equipped as a community to tackle this problem.
After meeting at the State Capitol, those of us in attendance snaked our way down the sidewalks of downtown Honolulu, through the business district and past the workers on lunch break. Holding banners and waving signs furiously at passing cars, we worked our way slowly towards King Street. Through throngs of cheering supporters, we marched to the beat of honking horns and shouts of support, each eliciting accompanying cheers from our crowd. It was like a party in the streets!
While we walked, those in the march talked about recent issues of violence in the community. We discussed the variety of participants and how many times each of us had attended the Men’s March. Some took selfies together, capturing the moment forever in film. We talked like a group of longtime friends, excited to see each other, while the weight of what we hoped to accomplish framed the backdrop for our participation.
Once we reached Honolulu Hale and Skygate park, where the rally was set to take place, it was clear just how many people had come out that day to protest domestic violence. As wave after wave of marchers poured into the space, various men from the community committed themselves to ending Domestic Violence. Through their eloquent words, they remembered those whose lives were stolen in the past year from abuse. They remembered the pain and struggle being inflicted upon too many of our ‘ohana, and why it’s so important that we hold their courage in mind. They offered support and a renewed commitment to challenge violence in all areas of our lives.
This event is a reminder to each of us about the pain that continues to spread. Behind closed doors or out in the open, too many women, children and men fall victim to this cycle of violence. The only way we’re going to put a halt to dangerous, abusive relationships is if we promote a better, more equal world - one in which our children grow up to love, respect and care for each other. Like members of a world family, we need to hold each other accountable and be responsible for our own actions. In all relationships, we must strive for peace and an end to violence. It’s only possible if we Find Our Voices, and USE THEM NOW!
I’d like to leave you with the Pledge of Nonviolence, a renewal of our commitment:
I believe that generating peace in my family, school, and community starts with me. Therefore, I commit:
.. to become non-violent and peaceable in all my actions.
... to respect myself, to affirm others, and to avoid uncaring criticism, hateful works, physical attacks, and self-destructive behaviors.
... to share my feelings honestly, look for safe and healthy ways to express my anger, and to work at solving problems peacefully.
... to listen carefully to one another, especially those who disagree with me, and to consider others’ feelings and needs rather than insist on having my on way.
... to apologize and make amends when I have hurt another, to forgive others and keep from holding grudges.
... to treat the environment and all living things, including our pets, with respect and care.
... to avoid entertainment that makes violence look exciting, funny, or acceptable.
... to challenge violence in all its forms whenever I encounter it, whether at home, at school, at work, or in the community, and to stand with others who are treated unfairly.