“It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to be on the cloak of nonviolence to cover immaturity. Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.”
– Mohandas Gandhi
The Inner Dimension of Nonviolence
Would you like to expand your emotional capacity and resilience? In order to have choice in how we deal with upsetting and negative thoughts, and resolve the harshness that most people experience within that manifests continuous judgments of self and other, we suggest practices to cultivate mindfulness, self-awareness, and emotional self-responsibility. Though challenging to establish, these practices can help us to create habits that sustain our vitality, strengthen our values, and restore our physical being.
We invite you to discover strategies that serve you best in transforming yourself into a more nonviolent being in the world. Here are a few resources:
Gandhi meditated every day and observed silence one day a week to strengthen his inner life. Here is a loving kindness meditation by Karen Trueheart. Karen Trueheart was our late board president and regularly taught meditation at our workshops.
Sometimes it is easier to find out what is going on in ourselves when someone else sits with us in empathetic presence and helps us to get deeper inside ourselves and clarify our feelings and needs.
Writing can be a useful strategy to engage in self-exploration and self-awareness. The written record can be useful in tracking changes in our own development. Try making a list of five things you are grateful for in your life each day.
The Interpersonal Dimension of Nonviolence
Did you grow up in a culture in which power is used over people, rather than with them? Most people in the world have grown up that way, seeing power used to achieve whatever is wanted at the expense of others. To consciously counter-act a “power over” approach, we can start by acknowledging that all life is interrelated and that our actions, words and feelings have meaning for ourselves and others. Because many of us have internalized the belief that we don’t truly matter, we don’t comprehend the effects our choices can have, both positive and negative.
We consider Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to be a useful strategy to create connection with self and others. The founder of this approach Marshall Rosenberg believes that the level of violence in the world is not due to our nature but due to the way we are educated. He suggests a shift in consciousness in which we express what is alive in us and refrain from thinking in terms of rewards and punishment. This consciousness corresponds to a peace-based worldview in which people think, speak and act from an understanding of the oneness and the golden rule of “do unto others as you would have done to you.“
“All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
“Disparities, disabilities, and deaths result when systems, institutions, policies, or cultural beliefs meet some people’s human needs and human rights at the expense of others. Structural violence creates relationships that cause secondary violence to occur.”
–The Little Book of Strategic Peacebuilding
The Systemic Dimension of Nonviolence
We envision systems in which we relate to each other and the environment in a responsible and cooperative way. The ultimate objective is establishing resilient communities in which prejudice, racism, sexism, segregation, inequality, exploitation, and injustice are eliminated and a system is in place which ensures that basic human needs and rights are continuously met.
To create a civilization of peace, a crucial shift in the currently prevailing worldviews is required. This includes changing economic systems based on growth at any price into systems of mutual care, cooperation and co-dependency. It requires the development of strong communities, a critical and diverse culture, the abnegation of abuse of the environment and the maintenance of values and ethics with integrity. Examples of systemic nonviolence that the Gandhi Institute actively explores and promotes are Permaculture and Restorative Justice. What is your favorite nonviolent system?