Social Justice

Peacebuilding and Digital Storytelling

God blesses those people who make peace.  They will be called his children!  Matthew 5:9 (Contemporary English Version)

In the book “Rules for radicals, a practical primer for realistic radicals,” Chapter 2, Of Means and Ends, Saul David Alinsky makes a compelling case that the proverbial question “Does the End justify the Means?” should really be stated “Does this particular End justify this particular Means?”  History is laden with those cases where a particular means was given a moral imperative by a group, only to be derided or even outlawed by that group when they found themselves eventually in power.  In the 5th of his 11 rules of the ethics of means and ends Alinsky states: “concern with ethics increases with the number of means available and vice versa.”  It strikes me, then, that one way to make peace is to provide as rich a number of means for people to affect change in their lives as possible, thereby encouraging ethical choice of means to achieve ends.

The Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice ( is starting a digital story drive this spring beginning the end of January.  They will be digitizing individual stories of police / community interactions in Champaign-Urbana,  providing a space for citizens to articulate their experiences.  Digital Storytelling is rapidly gaining prominence as a way to give voice to the marginalized.  But as Caroline Wang pointed out as far back as the mid-1990’s in relation to the process she called “Photovoice”, it is critical that there be buy-in from civic leaders and policymakers to truly listen to, and adjust policy based on, the voice given to the powerless using such techniques.

By using digital storytelling to give voice to the voiceless, CUCPJ is providing another, ethical, means to achieve an ends, thereby serving as peace makers.  But only if we take time to listen to and act upon the message conveyed by those voices.


Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice Homepage:

CUCPJ Facebook page:

Caroline Wang, “Photovoice: A Participatory Action Research Strategy Applied to Women’s Health”, Journal of Women’s Health, Volume 8, Number 2, 1999, pages 185-192.

Saul David Alinsky, Rules for radicals: a practical primer for realistic radicals, Random House, Inc., 1989 ISBN: 0679721134

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *