Aside from la-onf, which literally means ‘non-violence,’ Arabic has two other common terms for it, sabr and sumud, which mean, interestingly enough, ‘patience’ and ‘endurance, perseverance.’ Gandhi here offers us a gentle reminder of the same two foundational qualities that will help us pursue the nonviolent path and face the odds against us. Patience means that we are aware that it is the rare human being who will change in the blink of an eye. It might be obvious, but I think it’s worth stating: for human beings, ourselves or others, to transform for the better (and it is possible), usually requires a lengthy and highly creative process, mixed with large doses of integrity, optimism and honesty. Gandhi would add ‘dignity’ to the mix, too. Very few of us actually like or want to change immediately, yet all of us respond to that fierce kind of patience. Perseverance means that our patience has a different quality than simply standing by and waiting for needed transformations to occur; we nourish them actively. Many of us idealists expect that once we have seen deeper, into the heart of a problem or situation, that everyone can see it with it with us. “I’ve changed already, why haven’t you?” And our idealism begins to slowly fade. Why should it? Think about your own life. Remember: someone, somewhere nourished you and your vision of the world, and it transformed you. Someone, somewhere was patient with you. Maybe not everyone, but someone was, and it mattered, a lot.
Dedicate the day to cultivating patience everywhere you go and with everyone you meet.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 email@example.com