“I have been practicing with scientific precision nonviolence and its possibilities for an
unbroken period of over fifty years. I have applied it in every walk of life – domestic,
institutional, economic and political. I know of no single case in which it has failed.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

October 2 is the UN International Day of Nonviolence. On this day the world pauses to reflect on our long relationship with violence and on the irrefutable evidence of the success of nonviolence as modeled by Mahatma Gandhi and then followed with great success by Nelson Mandela in South Africa and by Dr. Martin Luther King in the U.S.

Non-violence is the path towards a gentle world and it begins when I speak, when I think, and when I see people with the light of love. It begins when I have the determined thought to treat people of all status, race, and religion with respect and care.  Non-violence means I understand that anger boils when people are afraid or feel they are not loved or valued. To help others feel safe in my presence and to see others through the eyes of respect is one of the greatest gifts I can give.  Non-violence means to not give sorrow to other people even through unkind thoughts. But it also means that I care enough for myself to not allow anyone to cause me harm. A life filled with non-violence is a life that warms the heart of the world and melts the walls of fear so that each of us can live, love, dance and thrive.

1)   Create a movie with images of non-violence and love. Add some music and inspire us with your vision of a non-violent world. Don’t forget to upload it onto the blog for all to see.

 2) Deep listening:  Listening deepens our understanding of one another and helps others to feel truly valued and cared for. This is the heart of non-violence. Experiment with deep listening with some friends. Try the exercise below.

Partner A asks one question at a time and then only listens as B answers. After each answer, A repeats back to B what they heard.  If B feels A has truly listened, they move onto the next question.  After finishing the questions, switch partners and repeat the process.

  • What do you wish people knew or understood about you? 
  • What do you love in life? What makes you feel alive and happy?
  • Is there a friend or loved one in your life that you tend to get angry and volatile with? What are some other choices in terms of how you could see them, speak to them or interact with them?  How could you make them feel more valued while still expressing your boundaries or requests?

3)   Creative alternatives: Sometimes we get angry and volatile with others because we feel powerless. We can release some of that anger when we realize we have choices, when we realize there are solutions to every problem.   Think of a situation that makes you feel angry.  What are the creative alternatives to responding to that situation? Are there solutions that would solve the problem but still allow everyone involved to feel valued and cared for? Check out the story below for a good example:

How My Father Taught Me Non-Violence

              –   Posted by Arun Gandhi on Sep 18, 2007

I was 16 years old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.

One day, my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father ask me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, ‘I will meet you here at 5:00 p.m., and we will go home together.’

After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5:30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6:00. He anxiously asked me, ‘Why were you late?’ I was so ashamed of telling him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, ‘The car wasn’t ready, so I had to wait,’ not realizing that he had already called the garage. When he caught me in the lie, he said: ‘There’s something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn’t give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I’m going to walk home 18 miles and think about it.’

So, dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads. I couldn’t leave him, so for five-and-a-half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through this agony for a stupid lie that I uttered.

I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again. I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don’t think so. I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single non-violent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of non-violence.

4)   Create your recipe for non-violence in the world and post it on the blog. What are the main ingredients of non-violence? What are the secondary ingredients? (the little things we do that really make a difference in our vision towards each other)

5)   Share a story about one of your heroes of non-violence on the blog. How were they powerful in creating change without the use of force, animosity or violence? What qualities did they use to create change?

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