International Communities for Active Nonviolence, North America

About ICAN

ICAN – International Communities for Active Nonviolence – is an all-volunteer initiative that builds nonviolent communities in neighborhoods, cities, and institutions around the world.

By “violence” we mean any action that goes against the freedom and happiness of others or oneself. Violence is not only physical, but can be economic, psychological, racial, religious, sexual, moral, etc.

Active Nonviolence involves the following steps at the personal, institutional, and social levels:

  • recognizing the many forms of violence in our daily lives
  • identifying the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that generate violence
  • getting in touch with our deepest aspirations for a peaceful and nonviolent world
  • adopting new nonviolent attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, strengthened and empowered by our common aspirations

As we participate in building a Community of Active Nonviolence, we find ourselves changing our basic beliefs about the human being. Contrary to the common belief that we must be self-centered, possessive and competitive in order to be happy, we discover that we are happiest when we look out for others, when we treat each other with nonviolence, caring and compassion.

In this way we begin to move from individualism toward caring for each other; from possessiveness toward freely giving; from fear of those who are different toward celebrating diversity; from ruthless competition toward cooperation and whole-hearted celebration of the success of others. And it is this journey that can ultimately lead us from formal democracy to a true participatory democracy that can open a future of harmony among all peoples and with the earth.

The ICAN Active Nonviolence Training brings together individuals from different institutions and localities, backgrounds and beliefs, for a series of sessions. Working both individually and in small groups, participants experience the real possibility of change, both personally and socially. Between sessions they return to their own environments – their workplace, their school, their religious center, their neighborhood, their city, their family – and share their new skills and understandings. Forming new Communities of Active Nonviolence they begin to work on transforming specific situations of violence in their daily lives.