Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace promotes purchasing nonviolent toys

The Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace held its annual “Don’t Buy War Toys” demonstration on Saturday Dec. 3 near the entrance of the Genesee Valley Shopping Center. GVCP describes itself as “a nonviolent activist group ... [that is] committed to working actively for a world of peace, justice and freedom,” according to their website. As a result, the aim of the event was to convince consumers to refrain from purchasing toys that promote violence or war.

GVCP member Patrick McCormick ‘15 spoke about the benefits of purchasing toys that promote creativity.

“We do this annual event to remind people around the holidays to purchase toys that don’t promote violence, but that promote creativity, thoughtfulness and caring,” he said. “The idea is basically to encourage people to think about what they’re buying for kids and the message they’re sending. Peace doesn’t start at the highest level of things, but it starts at home with how you treat people and the way you think about interacting with people.”

The organization also hopes that the demonstration will raise awareness about the harmful effects of providing children with violent toys, GVCP member Hank Stone said.

“I see what we’re doing here not as protesting, but as witnessing,” he said. “We’re raising up a point of view that is not really publicized in the commercial media.”

At the demonstration, GVCP showcased certain toys that they felt were better alternatives to violent toys, such as stuffed animals and musical instruments.

GVCP member Dr. Arnold Matlin said that he believes the popularization of certain “war” toys prevents people from seeing negative impacts of war.

“Video games are a perfect example. Drones are controlled by people who use video games, basically,” he said. “Somebody who spent his life playing computer games that destroys things just pushes a button and off goes a drone in Afghanistan that kills somebody. It’s just another video game as far as the person controlling the drone is concerned—they don’t see the death and destruction that it causes.”

GVCP has operated in the county for 44 years and has organized this event annually, according to Matlin. GVCP is also affiliated with other organizations, according to McCormick.

“GVCP is part of a larger organization known as Peace Action New York State,” McCormick said. “There’s a student chapter at Geneseo called Peace Action Geneseo, so usually those students are here, but it depends on what their schedule is like.”

McCormick explained that GVCP members have a variety of opinions as to which specific toys are potentially harmful.

“Different members of our group are on a sort of spectrum as to how they see this and which toys they find to have a negative impact,” he said. “For me, it’s more about contextualizing and not normalizing violence.”

The objective of the demonstration was to convey to members of the community that individuals can promote peace in their homes, according to GVCP member Suzanne Blackburn.

“I think it’s very important for this community in this part of New York to know that there are people around here who believe that peace is possible and that our officials should work for peaceful solutions to conflict,” she said. “Sometimes it seems like everybody here has one point of view, but there are multiple points of view in our community.”

News editor Annie Renaud contributed reporting to this article.