Non-violence is not talked about very much at this time, but it is a crucial component of human life. It is true that humans want to maintain themselves in groups of similar people. It feels safer and easier. However, the fear of apparently different others eventually leads to violence against other people, property, and institutions. We must recognize that fear and bravely practice non-violence. We may have been socialized to accept violence. It is difficult to be non-violent, especially since it is seen as cowardice and weakness, but it is absolutely necessary in these troubled times. There are very useful books, videos, and teachers who can help us change our thinking and actions. Gene Sharp has written a great deal and so has Marshall Rosenberg. Great pacifists like Dorothy Day and others struggled to promote peaceful ways of relating to others. Non-violence requires constant practice.
Twelve-step programs promote respect for oneself and others and ways of saying your truth in kind ways, “say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” We begin with goodwill, acceptance, and listening to others in order to achieve conflict resolution. The structures of humanity in families, other relationships, business, and government need to always begin with the assumption of goodwill and honesty tempered with kindness. Yes, sometimes hostile behavior requires defensive action to protect ourselves and others, but hostility should never come first.
Formal education and informal socialization must stress the equality of all humans. Everyone deserves to be treated equitably. Of course, babies, sick, and infirm people need extra care and attention. We must practice the cultivation of courage and patience with ourselves and others. Differences of countries of origin, color, gender, gender preference, wealth, age, intelligence, religion in people should not determine greater or lesser status. Connection with others is a necessity for all humans. Our Institute for Global Education office has some good literature on non-violence for all ages of people.
By: Kate Villaire