from Introductions
2011-03-17 00:18:32 | votes: +1
 

Greetings everyone!

 

Stephanie (Van Hook) and I are eager to work with you.  You  come from diverse backgrounds but have a common interest in "the greatest force at the disposal of humanity."  We really look forward to exploring that force with you, believing as you do that there is nothing else that can change the world the way it must be changed.  Let's go!

 

Warmly,

Michael Nagler

from Nonviolence in your language
2011-03-18 18:40:43 | votes: +0
 

Stephanie Van Hook here (Michael will post later): 

The term in Tagolog is Alay Dangal, to offer dignity. 

The definition of nonviolence that we draw upon at Metta indeed goes beyond nomenclature (what term ever truly encompassed a concept entirely without contention) to what it does like the Tagolog. Further, while we do need a consistent language,  any confusion about language is a confusion at the conceptual level. So how about this as a conceptual basis for ahimsa in English: 

Nonviolence is the transformation of a negative drive into a positive drive. 

This can be performed on the individual level as well as societally, as it takes people who practice nonviolence to carry out a truly nonviolent societal transformation. 

A side note: Gandhi believed that nonviolence was not just a physical demonstration. Nonviolence must occur in thought, word and deed. The way to make these consistent was to be vigilant regarding ones motives and he stressed self-purification on those three levels. Thus, the transformative process of the negative into the positive is another way of suggesting the purification of one's motives is the key to successful nonviolent action.

As we move forward together in this course, let us be mindful of how often in our life outside of Nixty that we are converting our negative drives into positive ones. Is there someone or some situation in your life right now that could be reconciled using nonviolence? Turning enemies into friends, turning hatred into love, turning lethargy into meaningful action? Keep track!

 

 

from Week 1: Your Vision for a Nonviolent Future
2011-03-20 23:42:11 | votes: +0
 

 Dear Matt,

 

I very much resonate with what you said (and others echoed, in one way or another):

"my vision of a non-violent future begins with how I live and ends with how I can help others live better through even an inkling of understanding around non-violence and its application to their daily lives."

We should keep this in mind as we proceed.

Michael Nagler

from Examples where nonviolence wouldn't apply?
2011-03-21 00:35:21 | votes: +0
 

Quoted from Matt Charron, written on 2011-03-20 13:41:44

HI Stephanie.

Yes.

In circumstances where there is great violent physical or emotional harm or suffering being done to a person or group of people which I could immediately stop through actions which would be violent.

Example: A pistol-wielding shooter killing and wounding people, whom I could stop soley by the narrow opportunity to hit them with a heavy object over the head.

Although my act against the perpetrator was violent, the net effect was to avoid much grievous harm and suffering to others.

It seems that any time an individual or group can stop mass violence against helpless people, only as a last resort to violence is applicable.

What do you think?


Matt

--------

 

Hi, Matt et al: 

Stephanie from Metta here. 

We usually call this situation in nonviolence "the madman with a sword" scenario. Here is a link to an article by Michael about its resolution he wrote for Tikkun magazine called "Libya: An Acid Test for Nonviolence."

Please read this and offer comments and questions if you have any.

Best for now, 

Stephanie

 

 

from Examples where nonviolence wouldn't apply?
2011-03-21 00:36:40 | votes: +0
 

HI, Matt: 

Check out this article Michael recently submitted to Tikkun on this topic. 

Best wishes, 

Stephanie

Quoted from Matt Bear, written on 2011-03-20 16:42:38

Hmmm... I'm going to take up a lot of space saying, "No... Nonviolence is always a potential solution."

 

We’re probably just creative enough to come up with scenarios in which we think Nonviolence wouldn’t apply… but are we creative enough to not be able to?  Are we creative enough to always find a Nonviolent solution. I’ve come to believe that there is *always* a Nonviolent solution.  I’m not always able to find one, but holding that belief, I’m pushing myself to become more and more creative.  With this exercise, I’ve come to find that I am finding Nonviolent solutions to things for which I used to not have Nonviolent solutions.  I’m trying to prove my own maxim.

I’ve often experienced challengers to Nonviolence trying to “heat” the argument by creating a more emotional scenario, something like: “What if someone was about to hurt/kill one of your loved ones?... Wouldn’t you use violence then and maybe even hurt/kill the attacker?!”  Something that has helped me with this question is to remember that we are *all* family, in fact we are all one.  So, let’s rephrase the question to that reality, “What if [ONE OF YOUR LOVED ONES] was about to hurt/kill your loved ones?... Wouldn’t you use violence then and maybe even hurt/kill [YOUR LOVED ONE]?

I think and hope that, NO, I wouldn’t use violence; I would try everything in my power to bring about a Nonviolent solution so that my loved ones (the attacker and the attacked) can remain healthy, whole, and in the family, even if my "offending" loved one was wielding a gun.

I think the important question, which I'll get to eventually, is, "Why did this happen and how can we keep it from happening again."  Rather than learning how to unarm the attacker, we should focus on how to make the attacks (or the perceived need to attack) never happen.

Another way of thinking about this is that the violent offender is socially or mentally ill.  Would we violently attack an ill person?  For example, imagine you are a psychologist taking care of patients in a mental ward. Through no fault of their own (either through social or biochemical stressors), a patient became violent and tried to attack you.  Would you pull out a knife?  Would you shoot the patient?  Would you throw her to the ground and start pummeling her?  No, probably not.  You might not even push a chair in front of her to cause her to trip and fall because she might hurt herself.  I think this is an interesting perspective that gives insight into how we might look at violent offenders in greater generality. 

Of course, mental health professionals don’t want to hurt their patients, but they also didn’t want to be killed trying to help their patients.  And appealing to the good will of someone who is mentally ill won’t necessarily work.  So, some psychologists developed a technique that has no offensive moves, but can immobilize the attacker so that they can work toward healing without anyone getting hurt/killed.  I think there might be some interesting answers in thinking about this technique further in the work of Nonviolence as a whole.  You can just do a web search for “Nonviolent self-defense”… or I just did and found this blog… http://nonviolentselfdefense.blogspot.com/.  I’m not saying this is “the answer,” after all, it’s still the use of physical "force," but the creative thinking is interesting to me.

I try to think about Nonviolence in a broader sense – as a sociological solution that will render the question of when to use violence against violence moot… I’m not thinking in slow motion here; I’m trying to think in terms of social change.  First (before any attack, obviously), I would wonder what the motivations of my “attacker” were.  Did I do something to aggravate them or offend them and if I did how might I make amends so that their anger/pain could be put to rest?  This would be primary.  On a more “macro” scale – are there social factors that are leading to their aggression, what are they, and now might I work to cure those?  And thirdly, what can I do to make Nonviolence, interconnection, trust, camaraderie, friendship, etc. become common community norms so that an aggressor wouldn’t even think of “attacking” another member of their extended family (as is the case in some cultures [Semai] and probably extinct cultures).  These are important foundational questions we should all be asking ourselves while working toward solutions so that the questions become unnecessary.

But, back to the pointed question: if someone came to my house and threatened my family what would I do?  Or if I were in a situation in which I didn't have a Nonviolent solution "ready to go," what would I do?  I don’t know.  That’s the short answer.  I would hope I’d talk the person out of the violence; I’d hope I’d let them take whatever “stuff” they wanted if they were motivated by the need for “stuff;” I’d hope the situation would never come up.  My being unsure at this point probably is because I’m still a student of Nonviolence (and will be for the rest of my life).  But I hope that one day the answers will be more clear and automatic.  I draw inspiration from Peace Pilgrim, who gave up everything to walk the highways and byways to talk to everyone she met about peace and compassion.  Once she was attacked and beaten -- she looked the abuser in the eyes and kept compassion in her heart and the attacker stopped, ashamed of himself.  She credits her response to saving her life.  I also draw from Martin Luther King, Jr. who gave up guns and armed guards at the behest of his Nonviolence teacher Bayard Rustin.  I think about how Thich Nhat Hanh would react. 

Ultimately, I will keep working to make your question unnecessary.  If it does arise, and I fail in my heart to remain Nonviolent, I will recognize that this doesn’t diminish the importance of working toward that goal and the power of Nonviolence as a tool for social change.  Sometimes we might fail to be Nonviolent, but we keep on practicing.

Before letting this go, I'm sure some might come up with "just war" scenarios and claim violence is necessary.  I'll save my response for now, but my short answer is -- there is always a Nonviolent solution.

I continue to learn, so if you find resources in your research on this subject, I’d be grateful if you kept me posted.

All one,

:) m

--------

from Week 2: A nonviolent approach to social problems
2011-03-21 23:13:29 | votes: +0
 

Dear Matt,

My own view is that 'the revolution' will INCLUDE all the consumption-related factors you enter below; I'm not so sure we can run it the other way 'round, i.e. get people converted to veganism, for example, and expect that that will lead them into the nonviolence fold. (Btw, Stephanie is a complete vegan).  Factoid: Hitler was a vegetarian!  I think what will happen is a conversion of the heart will happen now in one person now in another, now in one way now another.  To repeat, in the end all the changes you invoke below will follow closely upon the awareness that we are spiritual beings with bodies (not the other way 'round) and therefore there is no scarcity of what we really need, which is love, respect, meaning and not new cell phones.  It will also (Steph. reminds me) give people back their AGENCY.  

Stephanie adds: 'intention over consumption.' (The experience from veganism attests to the fact that people are very sensitive about food politics. Gandhi, however, held firmly to the principle of vegetarianism--even veganism at some points in his life--as a basis for the self-purification that would serve him in other areas, such as brahmacharya. "control of the palate is a valuable aid in control of the mind.)

Best wishes, 

Michael and Stephanie

Quoted from Matt Bear, written on 2011-03-20 17:11:51

 

ALL of them! :)

Seriously, Nonviolence is that powerful and far-reaching.  Every social problem could benefit from a Nonviolent approach.

Some specific examples arise in my own work with NonviolenceUnited.org where we remind people of the impacts their consumer choices have on other people, on the planet, and on animals with whom we share the world.  We reminding people that “every dollar is a vote” – how we choose to spend (or not to spend) our money has a direct effect on the world around us.  Our consumptive habits are what drive the state of the world from fair labor vs. slavery, to pollution, world hunger, deforestation, global warming, depletion of resources, death of family farms, to killing billions of helpless animals – this ALL has to do with how we consume.

Even social problems from which we tend to think we are disconnected like a “war on drugs” sustaining a prison system run mostly for profit, war, and poverty – these too respond to (and exist because of!) or willingness (knowingly or unknowingly) to support the system through our purchasing, social priorities, taxes, investments, etc.

A POWERFUL (and I would argue the most powerful) means of Nonviolent social change is personal responsibility through conscious consumption.

For example, we advocate vegan choices (eliminating animal products) because the number ONE threat to life on earth is animal agribusiness (raising and killing animals for human consumption).  Animal agribusiness is the #1 contributor to global climate change, the #1 cause of species extinction, the #1 cause of water pollution, the #1 water user/waster, the #1 cause of deforestation (including cutting down rain forests), the #1 cause of displacement of indigenous peoples, the #1 cause of displacement of and publicly funded killing of wildlife and wilderness destruction.

Through this simple commitment to Nonviolence both as a matter of principle (refusing to harm others unnecessarily) and as a strategic practicality (refusing to contribute to the problems above and therefore building solutions for the leading social issues of our times), making vegan choices is one of the most powerful, far-reaching things we can do to help save the world.

Nonviolence, and especially economic Nonviolence, can address every social problem I’ve been able to think of and study (I’m a sociologist).

--------

from Week 2: A nonviolent approach to social problems
2011-03-21 23:22:54 | votes: +0
 

Dear Christine.  Very much appreciated your thoughtful responses.  My comments will be in orange.

Quoted from Christine Lewis, written on 2011-03-21 15:08:07

Non-violence, as a living,breathing approach to life has implications that stretch to every aspect  of relationship. How true!  As read and listent to the podcasts from a vacation in the Cayman Islands... I have a growing sense of the violent wrongness associated with colonisation.  Let's think of colonization as a form of dominance, and get rid of all of them! What Gandhi did was always an "ocular demonstration" for infinite applications.! New Zealand, the impact is not as obvious because of the current size of the Caucassian population (and the fact that I am one of them.) Here on a smaller island,I feel the need for healing and reparation. This must be true in many parts of the world where there may not be any overt social deprivation, but a lingering subjugation that undermines the reality and feeling of a people. I am afraid in some ways, of the awakening compasion that this course demands... in many ways, I have obtained a non-violent life through shutting out violence and turning off the News. Perhaps it is time to risk something for the sake of those aorund me. What did you have in mind?  There is no question that we will get no traction on some of the problems facing us will demand risk, inconvenience, even suffering.  But don't succumb to guilt feelings!  I've seen people make big mistakes that way.

My natural affinity is to the earth. The active pursuit of a non-violent relationship with this planet and the wonderous beings that inhabit this space with us is to me an undeniable inner need. I sometimes feel shame to belong to a race of beings who pillage and scar without regard, Naglar suggests to me that I take this shame, allow it to blossom to anger, and  then I will have a useable energy source to act positively and with respect for all involved instead of attacking people who do not feel the same affinity to the planet as I do. This is necessary (the blossoming), but tricky.  We must also set up the channel for converting rage to useful work.  Doable but, as I say, tricky.  MLK: "we expressed anger under discipline for maximum effect."

I have limited access to internet here on the island, I will be home next Thursday and will really try to blog before then, but may not be able to reply to posts this week.

--------

from Week 2: A nonviolent approach to social problems
2011-03-23 00:09:43 | votes: +1
 

Dear Matt: 

Thanks for your correction on the Vegetarian factoid and your clarification as an ethical vegan and passion about the issue. The vegan solution, on whatever grounds, is problematic because people who have no access to fruits and vegetables are excluded from your definition of what is ethical. I found that this is a personal choice. 

For now, we will have to agree to disagree with you on your final claim and talk more later as the course progresses on your conception of what will be the revolution. I can't stress enough that learning does not entail reinforcing what we already believe but opening ourselves to what could be different, and we are open to your ideas.

Warmly, 

Stephanie 

 

 

 

 

 

Quoted from Matt Bear, written on 2011-03-22 16:00:50

Hi Michael and Stephanie,

Perhaps I should have said, "ethical" vegan.  I think it makes all the difference.  An ethical vegan understands our interconnection.  A  "for-my-health" vegan has the focus on me-me-me (futhering a disconnection).  From your reply below, I think you've limited your argument to a observational definition (the physical act of eating) vs. the internal, personal definition (the spritual or ethical act of eating).

Vegan, in my posting, was given as an example of one connected choice to get one on the path to realizing that all consumer choices affect others and build the world (that we are all interconnected).  Perhaps someone chooses fair-labor products, organic, etc. -- it all serves to get people on the path... not to stop there, but to then choose more and more "connected choices."

I don't think the "revolution" will happen in the hearts of people unitl we start physical manifestations of that heart-action -- putting into action our recognition of our interconnection.  This is also an example of your explanation of heart unity -- all of us working toward a better, more just, more compassionate world without necessarily joining hands physically.

To your "factoid" about Hitler -- please be careful; this is spreading a myth -- a disconnection from truth (see http://www.naturalnews.com/025163_Hitler_vegetarian_vegetarianism.html for example).  Even if Hitler was a vegetarian, the (mistaken) claims on which this "factoid" is made are based on Hitler's health issues, not on ethics.

I respectfully disagree, I actually DO believe conscious consumption WOULD start (and be!) the revolution.  It's an awakening that lead me and thousands of people I know to Nonviolence.  It's not necessarily "self-purification" but it is definitely a constant and powerful exercise, a constant reminder that we are all connected -- the lifeforce and purpose, in my opinion, of Nonviolence.

"For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." - Pythagoras

All one,

:) m

 

Quoted from Metta Center, written on 2011-03-21 23:13:29

Dear Matt,

My own view is that 'the revolution' will INCLUDE all the consumption-related factors you enter below; I'm not so sure we can run it the other way 'round, i.e. get people converted to veganism, for example, and expect that that will lead them into the nonviolence fold. (Btw, Stephanie is a complete vegan).  Factoid: Hitler was a vegetarian!  I think what will happen is a conversion of the heart will happen now in one person now in another, now in one way now another.  To repeat, in the end all the changes you invoke below will follow closely upon the awareness that we are spiritual beings with bodies (not the other way 'round) and therefore there is no scarcity of what we really need, which is love, respect, meaning and not new cell phones.  It will also (Steph. reminds me) give people back their AGENCY.  

Stephanie adds: 'intention over consumption.' (The experience from veganism attests to the fact that people are very sensitive about food politics. Gandhi, however, held firmly to the principle of vegetarianism--even veganism at some points in his life--as a basis for the self-purification that would serve him in other areas, such as brahmacharya. "control of the palate is a valuable aid in control of the mind.)

Best wishes, 

Michael and Stephanie

Quoted from Matt Bear, written on 2011-03-20 17:11:51

 

ALL of them! :)

Seriously, Nonviolence is that powerful and far-reaching.  Every social problem could benefit from a Nonviolent approach.

Some specific examples arise in my own work with NonviolenceUnited.org where we remind people of the impacts their consumer choices have on other people, on the planet, and on animals with whom we share the world.  We reminding people that “every dollar is a vote” – how we choose to spend (or not to spend) our money has a direct effect on the world around us.  Our consumptive habits are what drive the state of the world from fair labor vs. slavery, to pollution, world hunger, deforestation, global warming, depletion of resources, death of family farms, to killing billions of helpless animals – this ALL has to do with how we consume.

Even social problems from which we tend to think we are disconnected like a “war on drugs” sustaining a prison system run mostly for profit, war, and poverty – these too respond to (and exist because of!) or willingness (knowingly or unknowingly) to support the system through our purchasing, social priorities, taxes, investments, etc.

A POWERFUL (and I would argue the most powerful) means of Nonviolent social change is personal responsibility through conscious consumption.

For example, we advocate vegan choices (eliminating animal products) because the number ONE threat to life on earth is animal agribusiness (raising and killing animals for human consumption).  Animal agribusiness is the #1 contributor to global climate change, the #1 cause of species extinction, the #1 cause of water pollution, the #1 water user/waster, the #1 cause of deforestation (including cutting down rain forests), the #1 cause of displacement of indigenous peoples, the #1 cause of displacement of and publicly funded killing of wildlife and wilderness destruction.

Through this simple commitment to Nonviolence both as a matter of principle (refusing to harm others unnecessarily) and as a strategic practicality (refusing to contribute to the problems above and therefore building solutions for the leading social issues of our times), making vegan choices is one of the most powerful, far-reaching things we can do to help save the world.

Nonviolence, and especially economic Nonviolence, can address every social problem I’ve been able to think of and study (I’m a sociologist).

--------

--------

--------

from Week 2: A nonviolent approach to social problems
2011-03-25 00:00:37 | votes: +0
 

Quoted from Lindy Bonser, written on 2011-03-22 15:04:29

 

HI Lindy, I think these are all good points.  I've added one comment below, in this color.

The first place I believe the application of nonviolence is parenting. Whenever parents use demanding or intimidating behavior to get their children to behave in a certain way we are only going to be met with resistances. I believe the reason for this comes from the very basic core need of humanity needing some since independence.

            Whenever parents are demanding or demining forms parenting they are likely to be met with resistance which either comes from submission (leading to resentment) or rebelling (leading to anger).

When children are parented with loving and nurturing parenting style they learn that their needs and feeling are valued they develop a loving relationship with their parents while still maintaining clear boundaries.

            Children also develop internal motivation rather than motivation which comes from external punishment. Parents are rewarded with the pleasure of having a family where everyone’s needs matter.   

           

The other area would nonviolence could be utilized is in the way we communicate with each other. When we communicate with compassion and humanity we connect others we create interaction where everyone gets their needs meet. We move from trying to have power over another to sharing power.

Through nonviolent communication we aim at what we want [Or as Gandhi would point out, what we really NEED]but not at the expense of another. When we utilize nonviolent communication we do not criticize or coerce other. This in turn causes the individual we are communicating with to not feel the need to defend themselves.

Nonviolent communication can allow others to open their heart to the feelings, needs and empathize with others, leading to a wish to cooperate.  Nonviolent communication allows people see how their efforts are contributing to their own well-being and the well-being of the other.

--------

from Nonviolence in your language
2011-03-25 21:01:14 | votes: +0
 

HI, Matthew: 

Eknath Easwaran says that nonviolence is more like our word "flawless" in that it implies a perfection. On the tail of your post...

Quoted from Matthew Webster, written on 2011-03-20 19:13:55

Nonviolence, the English word for this concept, is an imperfect approximation. Nonviolence is positive peace, constructive conflict resolution, a marriage of means and ends, humankindness, active pacifism, the advancement of the Light in all of us, the Beloved Community. Nonviolence is principle not strategy, action not theory, courage not resignation, a force of unity rather than a sword that divides.

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from Week 2: A nonviolent approach to social problems
2011-03-25 21:36:21 | votes: +0
 

 

Dear Lindy, 

This is an interesting post. Very ripe for nonviolence education. A few notions:

Regarding the need for independence, Gandhi called this 'swaraj' or self-rule.  Gaining rule over oneself, one becomes a nonviolent person--and with this statement I make the assumption that violence is not self-control, self-awareness. 

Your post really points to something greater--that nonviolence begins with ourselves, and that our actions, words and thoughts have consequences on those around us. Nonviolent communication is tricky when it comes to nonviolence proper. The main point we must remember is that when we are communicating nonviolently, not only are we not creating a defensive exchange, we are initiating a positive one--expressing a desire for the other person to be fully human and to fully express themselves, thoughts, feelings and needs. 

More soon, 

Stephanie

Quoted from Lindy Bonser, written on 2011-03-22 15:04:29

The first place I believe the application of nonviolence is parenting. Whenever parents use demanding or intimidating behavior to get their children to behave in a certain way we are only going to be met with resistances. I believe the reason for this comes from the very basic core need of humanity needing some since independence.

            Whenever parents are demanding or demining forms parenting they are likely to be met with resistance which either comes from submission (leading to resentment) or rebelling (leading to anger).

When children are parented with loving and nurturing parenting style they learn that their needs and feeling are valued they develop a loving relationship with their parents while still maintaining clear boundaries.

            Children also develop internal motivation rather than motivation which comes from external punishment. Parents are rewarded with the pleasure of having a family where everyone’s needs matter.   

           

The other area would nonviolence could be utilized is in the way we communicate with each other. When we communicate with compassion and humanity we connect others we create interaction where everyone gets their needs meet. We move from trying to have power over another to sharing power.

Through nonviolent communication we aim at what we want but not at the expense of another. When we utilize nonviolent communication we do not criticize or coerce other. This in turn causes the individual we are communicating with to not feel the need to defend themselves.

Nonviolent communication can allow others to open their heart to the feelings, needs and empathize with others, leading to a wish to cooperate.  Nonviolent communication allows people see how their efforts are contributing to their own well-being and the well-being of the other.

--------

from Week 2: A nonviolent approach to social problems
2011-03-25 21:38:56 | votes: +0
 

Dear Lauren, 

Nice post. We must ask one question: what is quality education? What is your vision for it? We hope to encourage you to start that journey. 

Warmly, Stephanie

 

Quoted from Lauren Zumbrun, written on 2011-03-24 01:33:28

As a teacher, I am passionate about education and learning about issues within the field and exploring ways for fixing the problems that surround. 

I am glad Michael brings up education in the book and podcast because the idea of schooling and getting an education has changed and the shift has become more of a production then a means for becoming educated. The social problem I would like to address is how we are not giving our students equal access to quality education. Partially this is because many schools in mainly lower income areas have become a war zone for violence. There are metal detectors, students come with guns, teachers do not want to teach there, schools lose funding or shut down. The students suffer on behalf of all this. They loss the opportunity at education.  If we could focus on setting up non violent models in our schools and neighborhoods surrounding, it could be the workings to decrease the climate and failure of our schools.

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from Week 2: A nonviolent approach to social problems
2011-03-25 22:42:49 | votes: +0
 

Hi, Matt: Gandhi was very passionate about consuming and overusing animals for milk. He was even "vegan" to some extent for a long period of his life because he had the same kind of passion and faith you did about the cause. Although it was a hard choice for him, he ended up reverting to just vegetarianism, consuming goat milk in the later half of his life. What is interesting about Gandhi, and what your discussion has brought up for me is of three parts: 

a. Gandhi took the 'vow' of vegetarianism from his mother when he went to England to study law (as well as celibacy and no alcohol). He held onto these vows for her, but developed them in more detail throughout the rest of his life. 

b. The British in England were considered "strong" because they ate meat. There was even a song about it which Gandhi shares in his autobiography. (Time and again doctors throughout his life tried to prescribe both him and his wife beef-tea, etc and he refused). 

c. Gandhi promoted cow protection in his constructive programme work in Champaran. It didn't last, however, and he saw the human side to Hinduism in this effort (ie calling oneself Hindu and exploiting cows). 

Gandhi's efforts showed that the basis of nonviolence inheres a basic principle of the unity of life. However, he was also interested in showing the British a new definition of strong--one did not have to use violent means and one did not have to eat animals for strength. 

The thread runs through all of his teachings and life lessons in other ways, such as two-kitchens discussions between vegetarians and non, as well as toward the politics of killing in general. (He was against killing...). 

Best, 

Stephanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quoted from Matt Bear, written on 2011-03-25 14:33:18

Hiya Stephanie,

Thanks for the reply... and for taking the time to read mine :)

 

I completely agree that learning doesn't entail reinforcing what we already believe.  I've come to a place 180 degrees in a different direction than where I was.  I didn't always "believe" in veganism or in Nonviolence, for example.  But learning has brought me to a whole new vantage point.  What I "believed" wasn't truth at all, but a regurgitation of habit, my family, corporate profiteers who profit from disconnecting us from our own values of truth and compassion for other people, for the planet, and for animals.

But I've come to understand that food choices are *not* a "personal choice."  None of our choices are personal choices -- we are all connected and all of our choices have a profound effect on others.  Many of those choices are life and death.  They may very well be our choices, but they are not personal.  They are interpersonal.  That interconnection and inter-responsiblity can be overwhelming at times, but I keep trying.

When I came to recognize the role of veganism in the Nonviolence revolution, I learned of the problems of world hunger, deforestation, destruction and depletion of farm land, desertification, water shortages, etc.  The leading cause of all of these is animal agriculture.  

People sometimes bring up the claim that there are some regions of the world where veganism is not an option because of the lack of plant-based foods.  It's important to look at the distribution model -- first, we need to take personal responsibility in the parts of the world where plant-based foods *are* readily available.  We can't fall back on that excuse when 90% of the world has access right now.  But what about those without food access... Second, we need to take responsibility for the food and resources we take from others by making animal-based, wasteful consumer choices (when we use more than our share, we are stealing from others, to paraphrase Gandhi).  Third, this overconsumption of world resources as a profit model (the more resources one "owns" and uses, the more money one makes).  The system is broken.  While people are starving in countries that have plenty of plant-based foods, their own governments and corporate owners are exporting food for animals to the more affluent consumers.  

An example of this that is easy for people in the US to understand is right in our backyard.  People in the inner city, for example, can hardly find an organic apple... but they can go to the 7-11 on the corner and get an animal-based week-old hotdog spinning around on a greasy rotisery.  Does this mean those people are not ethical?  Of course not, it means they don't have access -- and that's a problem.  There's a great group in West Oakland called the People's Grocery driving into the depressed neighborhoods in their biodiesel truck selling organic fruits and veggies.  

More about distribution is affordability -- how can a burger that needed 500 gallons of water and an acre of land to "produce" (not including the lives of the animals, refrigeration, and distribution)... how can that burger cost 99 cents???  It can't.  Why is an organic apple $2.50???  Subsidization.  If all the land, grain, water, etc. used to go into animal products wasn't subsidized (paid for by using our tax dollars), a pound of meat would cost over $90!  We live in a manipulated system set up by profiteers making money through waste and illness.

So, yes, people claim that there are areas that have to eat animals and animal products because there are not enough plant-based foods or that plant-based foods aren't as "affordable", but we need to understand WHY.  Besides geography, there is the problem of distribution.  We are tearing down rainforests and using up land and water to grow food for animals to then feed those animals to people.  We could instead be feeding 10-20 times the number of people.  In some of the areas where there is little plant life, we still somehow get gasoline, automobiles, plastics, snowmobiles, guns, etc. to the populace.  Is it really impossible to get food grains to people.  Not if we redesign our "food for profit" model.

Beyond the logistics, there is the psychical component -- I do think that when we are in touch with what we consume, our hearts change.  Growing up on a farm, my grandparents and parents convinced me that the horrible things we do to animals was "necessary" and "just the way life is"... "life isn't fair" after all.  But I came to realize the personal role I was taking in that unfairness.  I do think that the practical process of making connected choices repairs an engrained process of lying to ourselves, which makes it that much easier to lie to others, to basically live our lives disconnected from who we really are.  This is the deeper "revolution" of which I write.

I'd be happy to discuss this further with you and/or suggest resources for understanding commodity chains.

All one,

:) m

Quoted from Metta Center, written on 2011-03-23 00:09:43

Dear Matt: 

Thanks for your correction on the Vegetarian factoid and your clarification as an ethical vegan and passion about the issue. The vegan solution, on whatever grounds, is problematic because people who have no access to fruits and vegetables are excluded from your definition of what is ethical. I found that this is a personal choice. 

For now, we will have to agree to disagree with you on your final claim and talk more later as the course progresses on your conception of what will be the revolution. I can't stress enough that learning does not entail reinforcing what we already believe but opening ourselves to what could be different, and we are open to your ideas.

Warmly, 

Stephanie 

 

 

 

 

 

Quoted from Matt Bear, written on 2011-03-22 16:00:50

Hi Michael and Stephanie,

Perhaps I should have said, "ethical" vegan.  I think it makes all the difference.  An ethical vegan understands our interconnection.  A  "for-my-health" vegan has the focus on me-me-me (futhering a disconnection).  From your reply below, I think you've limited your argument to a observational definition (the physical act of eating) vs. the internal, personal definition (the spritual or ethical act of eating).

Vegan, in my posting, was given as an example of one connected choice to get one on the path to realizing that all consumer choices affect others and build the world (that we are all interconnected).  Perhaps someone chooses fair-labor products, organic, etc. -- it all serves to get people on the path... not to stop there, but to then choose more and more "connected choices."

I don't think the "revolution" will happen in the hearts of people unitl we start physical manifestations of that heart-action -- putting into action our recognition of our interconnection.  This is also an example of your explanation of heart unity -- all of us working toward a better, more just, more compassionate world without necessarily joining hands physically.

To your "factoid" about Hitler -- please be careful; this is spreading a myth -- a disconnection from truth (see http://www.naturalnews.com/025163_Hitler_vegetarian_vegetarianism.html for example).  Even if Hitler was a vegetarian, the (mistaken) claims on which this "factoid" is made are based on Hitler's health issues, not on ethics.

I respectfully disagree, I actually DO believe conscious consumption WOULD start (and be!) the revolution.  It's an awakening that lead me and thousands of people I know to Nonviolence.  It's not necessarily "self-purification" but it is definitely a constant and powerful exercise, a constant reminder that we are all connected -- the lifeforce and purpose, in my opinion, of Nonviolence.

"For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." - Pythagoras

All one,

:) m

 

Quoted from Metta Center, written on 2011-03-21 23:13:29

Dear Matt,

My own view is that 'the revolution' will INCLUDE all the consumption-related factors you enter below; I'm not so sure we can run it the other way 'round, i.e. get people converted to veganism, for example, and expect that that will lead them into the nonviolence fold. (Btw, Stephanie is a complete vegan).  Factoid: Hitler was a vegetarian!  I think what will happen is a conversion of the heart will happen now in one person now in another, now in one way now another.  To repeat, in the end all the changes you invoke below will follow closely upon the awareness that we are spiritual beings with bodies (not the other way 'round) and therefore there is no scarcity of what we really need, which is love, respect, meaning and not new cell phones.  It will also (Steph. reminds me) give people back their AGENCY.  

Stephanie adds: 'intention over consumption.' (The experience from veganism attests to the fact that people are very sensitive about food politics. Gandhi, however, held firmly to the principle of vegetarianism--even veganism at some points in his life--as a basis for the self-purification that would serve him in other areas, such as brahmacharya. "control of the palate is a valuable aid in control of the mind.)

Best wishes, 

Michael and Stephanie

Quoted from Matt Bear, written on 2011-03-20 17:11:51

 

ALL of them! :)

Seriously, Nonviolence is that powerful and far-reaching.  Every social problem could benefit from a Nonviolent approach.

Some specific examples arise in my own work with NonviolenceUnited.org where we remind people of the impacts their consumer choices have on other people, on the planet, and on animals with whom we share the world.  We reminding people that “every dollar is a vote” – how we choose to spend (or not to spend) our money has a direct effect on the world around us.  Our consumptive habits are what drive the state of the world from fair labor vs. slavery, to pollution, world hunger, deforestation, global warming, depletion of resources, death of family farms, to killing billions of helpless animals – this ALL has to do with how we consume.

Even social problems from which we tend to think we are disconnected like a “war on drugs” sustaining a prison system run mostly for profit, war, and poverty – these too respond to (and exist because of!) or willingness (knowingly or unknowingly) to support the system through our purchasing, social priorities, taxes, investments, etc.

A POWERFUL (and I would argue the most powerful) means of Nonviolent social change is personal responsibility through conscious consumption.

For example, we advocate vegan choices (eliminating animal products) because the number ONE threat to life on earth is animal agribusiness (raising and killing animals for human consumption).  Animal agribusiness is the #1 contributor to global climate change, the #1 cause of species extinction, the #1 cause of water pollution, the #1 water user/waster, the #1 cause of deforestation (including cutting down rain forests), the #1 cause of displacement of indigenous peoples, the #1 cause of displacement of and publicly funded killing of wildlife and wilderness destruction.

Through this simple commitment to Nonviolence both as a matter of principle (refusing to harm others unnecessarily) and as a strategic practicality (refusing to contribute to the problems above and therefore building solutions for the leading social issues of our times), making vegan choices is one of the most powerful, far-reaching things we can do to help save the world.

Nonviolence, and especially economic Nonviolence, can address every social problem I’ve been able to think of and study (I’m a sociologist).

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from Examples where nonviolence wouldn't apply?
2011-03-26 22:15:55 | votes: +0
 

Lindy,

Your story moved me.  I have always felt that in a situation like that we do the best we can.  My recent article on Libya, which you can find on our site,  The main thing is to learn from our experience and go on -- learn, that is, to channel our energy around the situation into constructive work to help cure the problem along the lines you indicate at the end of your answer.  Your awareness itself is a gift.  I am moved by your compassion for the man.  Your story should be heard.  But you should not let it become an obsession.

Michael

 

Quoted from Lindy Bonser, written on 2011-03-21 19:20:53

Examples where nonviolence wouldn't apply?

This is an extremely difficult question for me to answer because I have been placed in a situation where I have had to use violence in order to prevent being raped by repeat offender. I was twenty-one at the time and attending University of Louisville. I lived alone at the time in poorer areas of Louisville KY.  It was about 2:00am or 2:15am in the morning and I heard the shattering of glass.

When I got up to find out what was causing the noise I saw a man with a black mask coming towards me in the hall way with a gun in his hand. I cannot tell you what my thought process was, but I can tell you I felt my own life was in danger. I fired the gun which I had in my hand and hit him in the lower, left leg.

He ran out of the house screaming leaving a blood trail for the police to follow. He was caught soon after and only lived a few houses down from me. I later found out that this man had served five years for rape and had not been out of prison a week before his slide back into his old ways.

I am not sure why, but I wanted to know everything about this man. I wanted to know what caused him to want to harm and violent women. I started going to his court hearings and went to the court house and paid for all the documents which I could get my hands that were public.

Come to find out this poor man had a horrible, abusive childhood. He was sexually abused countless times by his mother’s boyfriends. Eventually, Child Welfare stepped in and took custody of him. He bounced from foster home to foster home before becoming involved Juvenile system at the rip old age of eleven.

In my situation, do I think violence was the answer? I am still, to this day unsure. The one thing that I can be absolutely certain of is that as long humanity continues to devalue human life, that as long as we have people parenting who are oppressed and turn to drugs and alcohol to numb themselves from experiencing any more pain, as long as there are the haves and have not we are going to exist in a world where violence is seen as acceptable. It matters little is that violence is against self or against others

I feel that if the value of human life and value of self does not come from the home than it must be taught in our educational systems. It must begin early and it must be integrated into every subject taught. This is the only way I know of reaching children to show them the value of their own lives and the lives of their fellowman kind.

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from Examples where nonviolence wouldn't apply?
2011-03-26 22:19:10 | votes: +0
 

Matt,

 

Thanks for your thoughtful answer.  I think the kernel of it, which I think is exactly right, is "

, "Why did this happen and how can we keep it from happening again."  Rather than learning how to unarm the attacker, we should focus on how to make the attacks (or the perceived need to attack) never happen."

I also completely agree that  "there is always a Nonviolent solution."  Let's challenge ourselves to find them!

Yours,

Michael

from Examples where nonviolence wouldn't apply?
2011-03-26 22:24:34 | votes: +0
 

Question: The Tahrir Square protesters had over the course of multiple days assembled a large number of rocks and pieces of concrete and brick to use as weapons.  When I saw a photo of all the rocks I thought to myself, "Uh oh,  this looks like it could veer away from any semblance of a non-violent approach." Fortunately a giant rock hurling assault never took place.  My question: Was the non-violent "indicator" leaning more towards principled non-violence or strategic non-violence and how much of a role did the army actually play in keeping the revolution mostly bloodfree and non-violent?

 

Dear Matt,

I also do not know the details, but some of the sloganeering in Tahrir square was not at all nonviolent, and the reliance on military power is dubious, to say the least -- reminding me of the use of the 101st Airborne to prevent bloodshed in Central High, AK.   The best we can say is that it was non-violent, as Gandhi would say, "a tactic not a tenet."  That is had dramatic effect shows that even a little nonviolence can go a long way.  And that the world would be so much better  if it knew the difference!

 

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HI Stephanie.

Yes.

In circumstances where there is great violent physical or emotional harm or suffering being done to a person or group of people which I could immediately stop through actions which would be violent.

Example: A pistol-wielding shooter killing and wounding people, whom I could stop soley by the narrow opportunity to hit them with a heavy object over the head.

Although my act against the perpetrator was violent, the net effect was to avoid much grievous harm and suffering to others.

It seems that any time an individual or group can stop mass violence against helpless people, only as a last resort to violence is applicable.

What do you think?


Matt

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Hi, Matt et al: 

Stephanie from Metta here. 

We usually call this situation in nonviolence "the madman with a sword" scenario. Here is a link to an article by Michael about its resolution he wrote for Tikkun magazine called "Libya: An Acid Test for Nonviolence."

Please read this and offer comments and questions if you have any.

Best for now, 

Stephanie

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Thanks for sharing that article Stephanie!  It shows how perfectly the ways of non-violence are needed , and how they are discarded or ignored at great peril.

As many others including you and everyone at Metta, I've been paying close attention to the events in North Aftica and the adjoining middle east countries, keeping a weather-eye open for signs of principled non-violence.  Professor Nagler's article gave me a lot more confidence that I'd learned a few things from his book and the videos.  (If you knew me as a student from back when I was at university you'd be nicely surprised, as was I with my retention (let's leave the comprehension part out of it for now ;) ) .

I'll be concise with a couple of comments and a question that has been bugging me for a bit.

"The madman with a sword" which Gaddafi has become:  we can talk about who provided the sword, enabled his confidence to start swinging it.  It seemed he was mocked and embarrased by the West, which if I remember correctly goes against Gandhian non-violence.  Also calling for "days of rage" seemed also like throwing down a gaunlet of challenge to Gaddafi.  I certainly don't make excuses for his barbarity.  But the events and processes leading to where the Libyans find themselves today seemed not well congruent with principled non-violence.

"One cannot prepare to use lethal force against such a situation because if one has time to prepare one can prepare nonviolence."  <---- Yes! And this is why preparing trickery in diplomatic words to drive someone like Gaddafi into a corner from which he feels compelled to come out fighting, those words are violent.

"One must act as far as possible without anger or fear. One must harbor no hatred of the deranged party. Even lunatics are people."  This is most difficult.  It reminds me of Krishna's advice to Arjuna in the opening of the Gita. (But it's way past my bedtime and I said I'd be concise!).

Question: The Tahrir Square protesters had over the course of multiple days assembled a large number of rocks and pieces of concrete and brick to use as weapons.  When I saw a photo of all the rocks I thought to myself, "Uh oh,  this looks like it could veer away from any semblance of a non-violent approach." Fortunately a giant rock hurling assault never took place.  My question: Was the non-violent "indicator" leaning more towards principled non-violence or strategic non-violence and how much of a role did the army actually play in keeping the revolution mostly bloodfree and non-violent?  I personally don't have the knowledge (yet) to conclude one way or the other.

Matt

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from Examples where nonviolence wouldn't apply?
2011-03-26 22:30:13 | votes: +0
 

Hi Christine,

I'm touched by your poetic, deeply honest story. I agree, with admiration, that your courage was the beginning of real nonviolence.  I also feel that your rage at the abuse of children, which I share, is perfect 'raw material' for a nonviolent campaign.  How can we, as MLK said "express anger under discipline for maximum effect"?

For peace,

Michael

 

Quoted from Christine Lewis, written on 2011-03-23 17:17:40

I am moved by everyone's willingness to share openly and ask questions that can only be answered in the moment against violence. I, myself grew up in a large family with 5 girls and a tyranical, pedophile father. Asa very young child, I look back to see that I instinctively knew what non-violent resistance was. The 4th girl, and approaching his favored age, I refused to keep my mouth shut. Any small event in the house,I shared with friends, parents of friends, or teachers. Much of the abuse was kept out of my eyesight for this reason - even when I was pulled out of bed and beaten, I refused to not speak up. As a 6 year old, and now a kindergarten teacher, I have no idea how I knew to do this - my parents just called me stubborn and insubordinate (yes they did.) The result was that I was saved from more serious abuse because he would have had to literally lock me in the house to keep his secret. This also had the effect of protecting my one younger sister.  I suffered beatings, but I never felt the loss of my dignity, I would in fact confess to wrongs that I had not done because I was beaten less severly than my siblings who had actually done the act . I could sense his fear of my willingness to speak up even when threatened.

I couldn't 'save' my older sisters, but I think that in some way this was a successful non-violent campaign that I had to sustain for 12years - truth is, that he became less and less violent over time, eventually seeking help and I like to think that I helped him make choices that kept him away from harming other children; true or not.

I think that this early experience has fortefied me against life's obstacles and laid a path toward awakening loving kindness.

However, if ever I felt that my own children were being threatened by violence, or death. I believe that I would fight to the last. This maternal ferrocity may be fueled by my disgust in my own mothers inability, or unwillingness to protect us. Now my children are grown and in university, I am glad we survived without incident and leave them in the hands of the gods.

I think that non-violence is the only answer to everything, but I am all too aware of the physical and emotional price that can be paid in the process. We live in a culture where pain is feared, any little headache gets a tylanol and I wonder who the heroes are  going to be. I worry that my own daughter will be one of them and I will feel the pain of her pain as she dances her wrathful, peaceful, bold way through life.

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from Examples where nonviolence wouldn't apply?
2011-03-26 22:32:42 | votes: +0
 

Hello Lindy,

Your question, how to address these inequities: I think that by learning all we can about nonviolence we're taking the first step.  Glad to have you with us.

Michael

 

Quoted from Lindy Bonser, written on 2011-03-24 12:22:28

This debates on examples where nonviolence wouldn’t apply has causes me to reflect deeply on that infamous night I shot my would-be rapist. I keep questioning is there something I could have done differently and I still am coming up with the some response of no.

 

Than I become angry because I view this man as an example of parents, education, social services, juvenile justice that failed him. This realization, once again motivates me to continue to do the work I am doing as a family advocate and educator.

 

I have also been thinking a great deal about America and her culture of violence. Not to offend anyone because I am as red, white and blue as the average American, but it is a fact America was built on genocide, war, slavery, and oppression. So why would it not be common place for a cultural norm to except and use violence.  

 

Violence is about power and control It causes domination and causes individuals and nations oppression and suppresses dignity, honor and independence. Violence is the power that impends individuals the right to exist as they wish and to oppress them.

Those who are most vulnerable to violence are groups, individuals, and countries which have less power, low status, and limited access to resources.

 

So we as a group know what violence is, but the questions remain; how are we going to address these inequalities? How are we going to move forward in overcoming a cultural violence? And what steps can be taken to overcome the walls of resistant to change?

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from Week 3: Nonviolence in the Egyptian context
2011-04-04 21:51:58 | votes: +1
 

Dear Participants: 

Michael and I have really enjoyed reading the answers to this week's question and we are so grateful for your on-going enthusiasm and participation in our program. Your answers were uniformly thought-provoking.

A few comments (unfortunately, for those who did not participate this week, we will not be able to comment on late postings so we hope that you take this into consideration in the future): 

Matt C.'s remarks reminded us of a story that Daniel Ellsberg tells. He was holding onto the Pentagon Papers, paralyzed by the question "what will they do to me if I release these?" Then, one day he heard himself saying, "If I were willing to go to jail, what would I do?" Immediately his paralysis evaporated and he released the Papers. 

A question that we would also ask (and others have not yet brought it up): What is the state of your knowledge and training in nonviolence? (A few other points that were not brought up by Matt were brought up by others, so all together, we have arrived at a full set). 

Christine Lewis did well to raise the question of nonviolent "energy." What practices would cultivate that kind of energy? 

Lindy Bonser's question 4 is what is usually called "clarifying goals," definitely an important process in any movement. Question 7 she and others have rightly emphasized what would be the ways to bring over the opponent. The faith that this can be done, and the commitment to doing it is a major characteristic of principled nonviolence. As for question 10, we want to add that the evaluation of one's resources must be done carefully because not everybody can really offer a rightly oriented training, for example. Hopefully this short course will give you all the tools you need to be able to critically analyze these very questions and resources. :-) 

Todd D rightly emphasized constructive programme and the future; we might almost say that in this sense the revolution is not over. Constructive program is the revolution. For question 3, the government would ideally not be a "thing" that is set up but a living set of practices and culture that you do. This is why Gandhi so carefully built up swaraj from the individual level, village by village and why Michael Nagler frequently says, "the revolution is not about putting another kind of people in power, but about eliciting another kind of power in people." In regard to Todd's final questions, in fact Iraqi intellectuals fled the country in large numbers under Sadaam in the 80s begging for help which nobody gave them. 

We want to improve upon Matt Webster's first question. Perhaps it would be more useful to try to get at respondents' image of the human being. For example, we are not nonviolent because our religion tells us to be, but because that is who we are. Michael Nagler famously entered the Peace Movement when sitting on his motorcycle on McDougal Street in Greenwich Village listening to a radio out of a convertible parked behind him. It was a rally in the South and one angry protester said, "They're beating on us; why don't we just beat them?" And the person in charge responded, "Because that is not who we are." 

Maela points out that there are often unintended consequences. This is why it is so important to engage nonviolent energy in whatever we do that way the results will still be unintended but they will still be positive. This reminds of Gita theory of Action: use the right means in a right goal and leave the results to God (or if you will, destiny). 

Katie Crawford pointed out the complementarity between constructive and obstructive programmes and applied them to this context. In fact the five questions were particularly concise, leading us to think how the questioner would reply to these protesters if their faith in nonviolence began to weaken. 

A few final notes on our end: Your questions left very little unturned, but we might suggest that protestors be asked "how will you interpret your movement to the general public?" and finally, "how can we help you?" 

There were a few concepts from Search that were not included in these questions (not that everything has to be) but keep an eye out for the following as we proceed: work versus "work," the 3 faces of power, symbolic versus concrete action, unarmed civilian peacekeepers and their role and other new institutions. 

Keep up the good work everybody! We are enjoying being in dialogue with you. And what greater dialogue than nonviolence, when it is all said and done? 

Alongside the Petaluma River on a sunny day, 

Stephanie and Michael 

 

 

 

 

from Week 4: Nonviolence and Education
2011-04-11 20:12:39 | votes: +1
 

Dear Participants: 

Thank you for your answers this week. Please continue to write in your blogs beyond these discussion questions. Michael and I will respond as we did last week to everyone in this one post in order to help synthesize your ideas! 

First, to Lindy Bonser: I loved "Education is an investment in human capacity and the dev. of society."  There used to be an ad on milk cartons out our way that said "Schools: our most important national resource."  I replied in my head, "No, children are.  Schools is one place we develop that resource."  

When you say things like "Edu plays a vital role," we want you to go on, be more specific: what role, how played.

Matthew Webster: "Therefore, education must be relevant to the individual and their community if it is to have meaning and be effective."  Very true.  It's an example of what Gandhi called swadeshi (ck. it out on our glossary and stay tuned for our Gandhi section)

Matt Charron: Loved how you defined the purp. of Edu. What is Pecha Kucha?  We normally spell nonviolence w/o a hyphen, to distinguish it from the mere absence of violence, non-v. Your participation is inspiring.

With regard to your response to Lindy, groups like Nonv. Communication (NVC) and Alternative to V. Project (AVP) all teach people, sometimes prisoners, how to articulate better. That helps, sometimes a lot; but we have to remember Erika's 'caveat': they have to have love to communicate in the first place.  Clearly communicating disrespect, etc. won't help much.

Katie Crawford: talk about content, too.  What you said about how  we communicate what we teach is helpful, but as students get older they need to be taught truthful content as well.

Todd Diehl: Todd, I loved your para on creativity.  I had the thought the other day while talking to a friend that creativity may somehow be one of, if not the characteristic of true NV.  V is always knee-jerk.  Good to think about, anyway.

Regarding your response to Katie that teachers learn from students.  This is true enough, but I think we sometimes exaggerate it today, make it into an ideology.  Heart Unity means that there's no disrespect inherent in saying I happen to know something you don't.  Real heart unity might almost allow us to say, without disrespect, 'I happen to be more intelligent than you are.'  That's tricky, however.  In any case I think progressive-minded teachers go overboard in shying away from their superior knowledge, which doesn't help as much as we may think.  To own some superiority in a given characteristic without a sense of superiority in personhood: that's a nonviolent challenge for sure.  (Incidentally, I think the way Gandhi was portrayed by Ben Kingsley went too far in this direction of self-effacement.  G. was the humblest person on the planet, but somehow he conveyed that without cringing.)

 

Great work, everybody!  We look fwd. to the next step.  Toward a nonviolent future, of course.

 

Michael and Stephanie

 

 

from Week 5: Education and institutional change
2011-04-19 19:04:01 | votes: +1
 

Matt C.: That's a beautiful picture you've painted for us, thank you.  You might want to push a tad further with some of those brushstrokes: what would one or the other of them actually look like?  E.g.  What  would we teach under the rubric 'history'?  By the way, I am unusual (among progressives, anyway) in NOT fearing expertise on the part of teachers.  Indeed, without expertise at something, what would they teach?  My position here is subtle and I've taken some time to sort it out, but it lines up pretty well with Gandhi's 'heart unity.'  I.e.: we teach 'stuff', subjects but a) as a means of awakening the inner wisdom in students and b) with no implication that they are in any material way inferior to us.  (MN)

Todd: beautiful.  'Agricultural' as an extended metaphor for nurturant education works well.  Any day better than 'industrial.'  There may be another reason students are baffled when you ask them to choose their topic: they come to us, after all, pretty clueless and pretty confused.  Our job may be to give them something to hold on to that does not circumscribe their creativity.  That's what I'm trying to do with the Mng. of Life series -- and indeed at Metta generally.  I share out plenty of 'knowledge,' but hopefully it opens rather than closes possibilities for them. (MN) By the way, you seem passionate about this topic in a way that doesn't come out in your grant proposal. I am sure you could frame your course in nonviolence based on this entry and feed in the other sections from your blog. (SNV)

Lindy:  I really like "an edu. system is a human system."  I'm a little less comfortable with the emphasis on e-learning (though ironically that's what we're doing right now!).  The research is delivering horror stories about what 'the screen' does to young people's minds.  We should use only when (as right now) we cannot  meet face to face. (MN)  Your emphasis seems to be on family as the center of life, cultivating gifts and moral character.  This is very Gandhian (you'll read about it a few units from now). My question for you (because it was not explicit): where does nonviolence proper fit into your new system? If you could be more explicit on the interrelation between your concepts and nonviolence, it would make a good case for what nonviolence can do and how it can be achieved. (SNV). PS: We would love for you to help us with grant writing at Metta! (SNV and MN).  :-) 

Lauren: In general, I couldn't agree more.  Yay, students!  Think now about what is causing us to approach education in such a counter-productive way as a society.  What concrete proposals would you make to build an alternative AND how would you get them adopted by unresponsive persons.  Education tends to be a very conservative institution.  Would you start outside the system?  Within it? Both?  Think that over.  (MN)  Are you familiar with other leading educators who have attempted to build the system to which you refer, eg Maria Montessori, Rudolph Steiner (Waldorf), the Summerhill School in the UK, etc. What about non-traditional schools, like Metta or Teachers without Borders? (SNV)

Christine AND EVERYONE: We share your pain -- and your vision.  You could be a leader in this great change.  But I want to add one thing we should all be aware of.  We live in a culture that has turned its back on Truth.  Absent an undying devotion to truth, that demanding goddess, no learning system can thrive.  What do we do about THIS?  This question isn't just big, it's huge.  I welcome your thoughts on it.  (MN) Hi, Christine: I agree with MN. You could lead a movement with this vision. I would love for you to push forward and discover exactly what kind of admin and gov'tl policies are necessary to implement the vision. Break it into a 10 or 20 year vision if you must. But don't ever give up on the vision. What a contribution to our world. (SNV) 

Matt: I absolutely love what you've laid out.  I resonate with that passion for meaning; it has driven my whole life.  What we all have to address now is the HOW.  Exactly how would we propose instead and how would we propose to get there?  I know that's a big challenge, but the visions you're all sharing opens the door to tackling it. (MN) Hi Matt, Ditto on MN. My concern is that many teachers have this idealism as they enter their careers and slowly they succumb to disillusionment and powerlessness. How can we take your vision and offer it to educators to re-vitalize their enthusiasm and ideals of education as educators? Michael is reminding me of a Toynbee quote that I like to use: Apathy can only be overcome by enthusiasm, and for enthusiasm you need two things: an idea that takes the imagination by storm and a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice. (SNV).

Shannon: Hi Shannon, my regards to 'the pond.'  One thing made me want to comment: I don't have much confidence any more in 'the commons,' since media propaganda now reaches right down to the grass roots.  While one community or one structure might be somewhat more useful than another, the real change we need will probably have to start with whoever is ready for it.  Am I making myself clear?  It's a bit like Gandhi not being fooled that if they 'got rid of the British' they'd be free.  They had to get rid of greed, fear, etc.  It's also like my discomfort with the switch from 'nonviolent intervention' to 'civilian peacekeeping:' I've known some pretty violent civilians!  Otherwise I'm with ya!  As with everyone else, we need now to get down to specifics. (MN)  Hi, Shannon: Also regards to Walden pond. My concern is the transition from our current system to the local system you propose. How do you think it can happen or what do you see spurring it to change? Is it an immediate or a long-term goal? How do you see uprooting egotism from our culture? I find that it lurks even in the alternative models offered and is a cause of suspicion for others for the new models. (SNV). 

Congratulations everyone on a thoughtful experience. Remember to consider how nonviolence education proper fits into the transition from our current system to our ideal systems, and remember to talk about it explicitly. As we say at Metta, "it's not about putting the right kind of person in power (ie students instead of educators), but the right kind of power in people." 

Warmly, 

SNV and MN

:-) 

 

 

 

 

 

from Week 6: Gender and nonviolence
2011-04-26 19:00:11 | votes: +1
 

Perhaps because I read it last, I feel like starting with Matt W's paean to diversity.  That's excellent.  Whenever we speak approvingly of diversity, as we must, the hymn to 'unity' should be closely following, at least in our own minds.  That's the essence of life AND of nonviolence, it seems to me: unity-in-diversity.

There are just two more notes I’d like to chime in on.  Shannon, you said that it’s OK “for a man to be drawn to competition…”  I agree, but then we must add that competition must be redirected: not against others but against our own weaknesses.  “I’m going to beat the level of kindness I reached yesterday.” 

Matt C., I could not agree more that we need to stop viewing people, or maybe any living thing, as a ‘resource.’  All the exx. you adduced, e.g. from business, are pertinent and something I’ve been struggling against whenever I get a chance.  What Gianina meant, of course, is that women have a powerful contribution to make to all levels of peace creation, perhaps if anything more important than that of men, taken as a class, and that their contribution is being overlooked.  On that we can all agree.

There is no question that a) patriarchy embodies a particularly virulent (no pun intended) form of structural violence.  It has to go.  And b) the overlooking of women's particular contribution to peace and NV (or peace through NV), alongside they're general contribution as human beings, centers of compassion and courage, is a way that the war system maintains itself.  I would also add that the failure of most Westerners (and others) to hold a unity-in-diversity framework facilitates a lot of violence.  Learning to hold is is probably essential to the birthing (no pun intended) of a nonviolent future.

By the way: nice writing, everyone! (MN)

Hello, Everyone. Along with Michael's comments, I'd like to add a few more. 

The essential element of this unit (and the reason that I added it into the content) was to express the relationship to the study of peace and nonviolence to gender as relegated to a few, male voices. As always, we must ask the question in the 'unity-in-diversity' approach, "where are the women"? In other words, a UID approach does not mean that we allow for the same representatives to maintain a new paradigm. We expand and open the discussion toward greater inclusivity. For example, as we are creating a lesson plan, are we inclusive to women's contributions or do we allow for men's voices to dominate the literature we use or the expertise from which we draw? This is a simple question of representation, for a unity-in-diversity approach will honor that, while we need to be clear on the message so that we are not drawing from a gender essentialism (eg a woman's voice because she is a woman although she espouses a violent paradigm), we do not forget to do the hard work of making sure that a classroom has exposure to a nonviolent paradigm from a number of different cultural voices. 

As to masculinity and femininity, I do not deny that these are a part of  a nonviolent worldview, only that they are applied to the deeper part of who we are, our spiritual selves.  But in the current cultural paradigm, they are dismissed as purely sexual. Yet, as a colleague of mine recently pointed out, to deny men femininity or to deny women masculinity is to fundamentally de-humanize that person. So, gender fundamentalism in any way is a matter of violence itself, as Reardon brilliantly points to in her lecture. To see ourselves and others as fully human is to reject sexual manipulation, strategies of flirtation for power, and to ensure that sexual harassment has no room in our workplaces and institutions such as our school-rooms. The ultimate point in a nonviolent worldview is that we must work to uproot these attitudes in ourselves, our desire to compete for scarce resources, to dominate, to manipulate for power, to marginalize based on the make-up of our bodies, to believe that some people are worth more than others simply based on their ability to dominate etc. in order to outwardly express the truth: we are not separate. 

SNV

 

from Week 7, Part 1
2011-05-02 22:51:09 | votes: +0
 

Lindy, to your last point, above: what a great idea.  I hope many such will bubble up from our discussions.

 

I (MN) find I don't have much to add to what you-all have said on reading about Nai Talim, one of Gandhi's major fields of contribution.  We might add that the practicality he showed in designing education was thoroughly typical in his practicality everywhere.  Remember, he called violence, or 'short violent-cuts' actually the longest way around to get anything useful done.  Trivium for the day: 'Taliban' is the Farsi plural of talib, 'student.'

While he didn't emphasize it, for various reasons, prayer was integral in his schools (there are quite a few still today throughout India).  Thus mind, body and spirit were cultivated harmoniously -- at least that was the goal.

 

Stephanie VH will be posting later.

from Week 7, Part 2
2011-05-04 18:56:36 | votes: +1
 

Dear Nixty Friends, 

I am so impressed by these comments--all of them! It shows that you are thinking critically about the course material, and what excellent uses of nonviolence terms and concepts. Kudos.

A few points: as for Gandhi showing that "British rule was undesirable...", we would frame it in a positive light: it was to be an ocular demonstration that the people of India were desirous and capable of self-rule (swaraj). I add this because nonviolence is not a negation but an affirmation (ahimsa). 

A note on the relationship between satyagraha and ahimsa: Gandhi has said that these are two sides of the same coin. But what does that mean? I think that Martin Luther King summarizes it best when he says that "love is self-organizing." We work to uproot anger, revenge, resentment in ourselves to uncover (and realize) a deeper and more effective form of power. That power will self-organize into satyagraha (soul-force, nonviolent action), which is the outward expression of ahimsa. Is this clear?

A slight note on the idea of nonviolent action. We discussed it in weeks 1-3 through the lens of principled and strat. nonviolence. The difference here is valuable, because strategic nonviolence is not satyagraha, to the extent that satyagraha emerges from ahimsa. Ahimsa is the ability to love one's enemies, satyagraha is that concept applied in a campaign, outwardly. Strategic nonviolence, or what most people call nonviolent action, is the kind of nonviolence where you don't have to love your enemy,  you just don't have to use 'violence' to get what you want. Again, this is not satyagraha properly spelled out. 

Moreover, Gandhi always spoke of the ideal. This is important. He also said, "though I may fall many times, I will never lose my faith." We must hold onto that ideal, onto truth, and to form ourselves in its image, though we may fall many times.

Further, satyagraha as self-organizing does not mean that we sit back and do nothing (not that any of you smarties think that we would!). But it is important to point out. The Salt-March came to Gandhi at the 11th hour. That is the beauty of ahimsa and satyagraha. We are prepared at any moment to outwardly express our inner lives because we've been training, practicing and when called upon to act, even at the 11th hour, we are creative and enthusiastic (and ENERGIZED) to stand up for what we believe in, to love the "meanest of creation as ourselves," and to change the face of a conflict through the power of love, that active, positive, creative force. 

Bravo. 

Stephanie Van Hook

 

 

 

 

 

from Week 8: Nonviolence and history
2011-05-10 17:13:36 | votes: +1
 

Dear Participants, 

A few more notes on this subject. I think that you do well to point out the need for a different approach to history that includes nonviolence and its promise (and great quotes, Matt W.). The difficulty with the documentation of nonviolence is that it necessitates a shift in our consciousness because nonviolence can happen within the context of violence. For example, if we want to show historical footage of a nonviolent moment, it is harder to film for at least two reasons: a) we need to know what we are looking for; b) it is more difficult to outwardly represent in the immediate present an opening of mind or a change of heart. This is the dynamic of nonviolence--appealing to the heart when dehumanization has escalated. This is also the problem of the news media in many ways: who can explain what is happening? (We'll get to this in the last week of the course).  How can one show a history of love? Do you not have to believe in love in order to see it in action? That is what satyagraha is, love in action! 

The events of Arab Spring have changed the course of history, many people have ascertained. But I also maintain that these events have not only changed the course of history, but they have changed the way that we think about history. These events are breaking through our consciousness and forcing us to include them into our historical narrative, our story about democratic rule, and our awareness of the human meaning of justice. We need to actively interpret these events from non-uniform perspectives , as Katie points out, and make them a more robust narrative of who we are. I am reminded of Kenneth Boulding who has said that when we look at our lives objectively, we find that 90 percent of our behaviors and activities are peaceful, and that war is an interruption of those activities. 

As to Todd's discussion, I would want to warn us from reducing history to man's search for money, and open the statement a bit more: what about history as man's search for meaning and identity, which, whenever this happens, undergoes the strains of co-optation. I'd suggest nationalist sentiment is part and parcel of a violent history as the "truth." Historians are aware of the problem of interpretation, our challenge is as a public in so far as how little evidence or critical thinking we need to accept someone's interpretation as factual and accurate.

Make history, 

 

Stephanie VH

 

 

 

 

from Week 9: Science
2011-05-18 03:46:47 | votes: +1
 

Thanks everyone for your posts this week. Since week 10 is a FAQ podcast/video, let's give everyone one more week to present and discuss on this page in particular. 

from Week 9: Science
2011-05-24 05:36:17 | votes: +1
 

Matthew Webster: Yes, localism ('svadeshi') is, paradoxically, an integral part of the overall recognition that life is a unity, a whole.  What you might have spelled out, I think, is just how interconnectedness, which you illustrate in the one area of farming, makes such a difference for nonviolence.  (Since farming locally or otherwise isn't directly confronting an overt  form of conflict the connection should be spelled out).

Todd: Very nice, as usual, Todd.  What would be the positive equivalent of "non-might"?

Matt Charron: Wow!  That connection betw. 'prospect theory' and threat power is extremely neat.  Connections like that help us integrate nonv. into other aspects of daily life, which is very good.  The rest of your piece is also extremely thought-provoking, and more than that: offers a promise of more effective communication and influencing people!  Matt, you should write a brief manual or at least a paper on this, first of all for us.  It has both a theoretical and practical tie-in to 'our favorite subject.'  I will read your blog shortly.

Shannon: As you know, I won't give you any argument on those assertions!  Not for nothing they call me Michael 'mirror neuron' Nagler (among other things).  Seriously, that's a just assessment of this new discovery and its uses.

Linda. I would agree with all your statements here, Linda -- that NV isn't passive, etc.  I miss the connection with positive science, though.  Could you point that out?

 

Good work, everyone!  There's a rich field opening up and it feels good to be 'on top of it.'

MN

from Week 10: Challenges to nonviolence
2011-05-24 22:25:35 | votes: +0
 

Matt Webster: Very good, Matt!  Both phases of your answer are put well.  You might expand a little bit on the last part of "madman:" when/if one has to use force (it's not technically violence, i.e. himsa if you have no hatred, desire to harm): one should leave the situation not with triumphalism but with regret at what one had to do and commitment to work on never having to do it again.  It's interesting that Gandhi, who was in the front lines for 50 years, never encountered this situation: it's important theoretically.

   Incidentally, there's an example I use of a NV approach to terrorism, or at least brigandage: Vinoba Bhave in 1961 got a clan of bandits to turn themselves in to him in exchange for fair treatment from the law.

Laura: Take a look at what Matt said and I said back.  I think that when we have a truly nonviolent worldview, what we call 'principled nonviolence,' we would never see 'terrorism' as having a mindset.  Only people have mindsets, and we believe that even people with entrenched mindsets of violence can be awakened, if we have the right energy and circumstances allow.  There are many examples of this: but in the end I guess it's a matter of what we believe about human nature. 

Matt C: Really, really good points.  You have chosen to address the problem 'upstream,' going to early stages of the growth of Nazism and (other) terrorism.  Perfectly valid.  Fortunately you touched on Rosenstrasse also to cover the point that we are not helpless even at a late stage, provided we know NV.  I really like what you said about a 'German svadeshi.' India was at least as crushed by the Raj, though quietly, as Germany was by the 'allies.'  It would have helped a lot, though I believe the underlying problem was humiliation: the other Europowers had fun despising Germans, and in that sense got what they deserved.  That indignity would have been partly alleviated by economic sufficiency: but decentralization and sufficiency were not in vogue in the frenzy of consumerism/industrialism going on in the West.  Gandhi was one of the few to see that need, and have the courage to turn his back on the West in that regard.

Todd: a strong op-ed.  You probably had a great, and more direct answer that you scrapped, and we'll be happy to read it if you want to retrieve it from the cutting room floor some time.

from Week 11: Nonviolence and the media
2011-05-27 01:47:40 | votes: +0
 

Hi, Lauren: How will we know who is reporting the truth? 

from Week 12: Nonviolence, post-Gandhi and King
2011-06-06 19:32:44 | votes: +0
 

Great Answers, everyone. Good luck on your projects. We look forward to reviewing them...