At the beginning of the Indian Freedom Struggle, when people wrote and spoke against participating in non-cooperation, Gandhi told them to “get out of their chairs” and actually come to talk with the people whom such actions would benefit directly. They were angry. Gandhi, articulating one of the key dynamics of nonviolent power, knew that strong emotions had to be constructively channeled if violence was to be avoided. Doing nothing, aka being passive, could only lead to violence, because people’s emotions were running high and they had no outlet for them. Behind every emotion is energy, and it’s ours to harness. Gandhi promoted non-cooperation as a necessary tool to, in his words, “enable people to give such expression to their feelings as to compel redress.”
Fast-forward to today. The corporate mass-media in particular tends to share stories about violence out of context, as though an event suddenly “erupts” like a volcano and no one saw it coming, and consequently, there is nothing we can really do about it. But nonviolence tells us a different story. The research is in: direct violence is the result of a long process, often including structural violence, less visible but no less galling, that can be interrupted at many points with nonviolent intervention and practice before it bursts out as gunshots or fisticuffs. Violence is not inevitable. Beloved community, however, is. It is just a matter of how quickly we learn to desire it, and how strongly.
Review your media. How does it analyze violence in our midst? Does it mention or give voice to nonviolence? How can you incorporate more nonviolence into your daily news feed?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org