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
Non-Violence; Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi
Many years ago, I spent some time in Tennessee. There was an organization in Memphis similar to Institue for Global Education (IGE), and I was volunteering with them. People from Grand Rapids who had been members of IGE and had moved South had founded this organization, using the IGE as a pattern. On Martin Luther King Jr’s (MLK) Birthday, in order to celebrate, the group held a well-attended event in a giant church in Memphis. Arun Ghandi, Mahatma Ghandi’s grandson, was the featured speaker. I remember talking to Arun after he spoke. I gave him the January 15th page from my page-a-day quote calendar: it quoted Ghandi about non-violence in honor of MLK’s birthday. Arun loved the calendar page and told me that Martin Luther King Jr. was the only one who had seriously implemented his grandfather’s ideas. He had used them to craft the American non-violent civil rights revolution. Arun said he was staying there in Memphis in order to research and study MLK’s papers.
More things you might not know about Martin Luther King Jr.; Martin Luther King Jr. was not born with that name. His birth name was Michael King Jr. If he later changed his name from Michael King Jr. to Martin Luther King, Jr., how could he be a Jr.? Because his father was also Michael King – Michael King Sr. The father changed his own name to Martin Luther and the son followed. So, the Jr. is correct as his name was the same as his father’s at 12 years of age, Martin Luther King Jr. jumped out of a second-story window, allegedly attempting suicide. At 15 years of age, without finishing high school, Martin Luther King Jr. started at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. He then entered Crozier Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and finished with a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1951. He received his Ph.D. in Theology from Boston University in 1955 and became Dr. King.
How many times did MLK Jr. go to jail? 29. This sounds like a lot especially for a scholar and preacher and purveyor of non-violence. But remember, the police and the government wanted to punish him for his activities. For example, one time he was jailed for driving 30 mph in a 25-mph zone. How many times did people attempt to take MLK Jr.’s life? Twice, that we know of. What close relative of MLK Jr.’s did an assassin kill? His mother. How many African Americans have a declared federal holiday on the day of their birth? One. How many other Americans have a declared federal holiday on the day of their birth? Two – both were Presidents.