Lesson 4 (Family Program)

“When Ahimsa becomes all-embracing, it transforms everything it touches. There is no limit to its power.”  Activities for Month Three (PRINT VERSION AVAILABLE HERE)  The following activities are options for you to implement as works best for your family throughout the entire month. None are very demanding, but each one requires of us our full presence of mind and heart. You are invited to be creative with the activities: find your own way to make it work for the children with whom you participating. Invite each other to add to the activities in ways that add to their meaning and beauty. Here’s a list of the activities for the month. Find descriptions below. Journal Family Meeting Gandhi Searches for Truth, Reading and Discussion (for whole family) Search for a Nonviolent Future, Reading and Discussion (for older teens and adults) Mealtime Activity Wisdom Tradition Passage Nature Activity Journal Thich Nhat Hanh said the following about empathy: “When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change” Take time to reflect on these ideas and relate them to a situation you and/or your family may be facing. Family Meeting This could take place around your nonviolence altar. Or in a space that you create intentionally to hold this meeting. Begin the meeting with something beautiful. Maybe a short song or a poem or an inspiring quote. Allow time for quiet reflection. Then, invite each other into the discussion. Suggested topic for this month: Explore the topic of conflict from the perspective that conflict is normal, even healthy, but there are ways of engaging in conflict that do not require us to use violence. Find ways of handling conflicts that draw on creativity, not violence. Explain that this knowledge about conflict is not something that is well understood in our media, but it is understood by peacemakers. N.B. There are no right or wrong answers. The goal of this exercise is to be honest with each other, to try to go a little deeper with each other as a group, and to share from our hearts. The family meeting can also serve as a space to work out problems in a collaborative way (not parents vs. children).   Reading and Discussion with Children: Gandhi Searches for Truth can help grown-ups and children have important conversations about ideas related to nonviolence. It’s most effective when we take our […]

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A New Story for Changing Times: Newsletter

There are things we can’t change, but there’s always something within that framework that we can. The severe deterioration of our democratic institutions seems to have an implacable momentum, leading us to the kind of seismic cultural change known as “paradigm shift.” That we can do little about. But what we can do—and the Metta Center is very glad to be a part of—is try to help the shift be, as Sally Goerner says, “gentle rather than catastrophic.” See what our founder Michael Nagler says about that in today’s newsletter. We also share some inspiring resources for you on the new story. Read the December 13, 2017 newsletter. Get the Metta Center’s newsletter. Access the newsletter archives.

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Leave it on The Table Again?

“You can’t fight City Hall.”
Well…turns out City Hall is a minor obstacle these days. Trump and his autocratic buds loom far larger. If you can’t fight City Hall you surely are foolish to try Trump.
Indeed, we routinely tell ourselves some version of the Reinhold Niebuhr axiomatic Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
We cannot possibly affect serenity these days without occupying a state of deep denial. This is an emergency on all fronts:
· Trump groped many women, a dozen of them came forward to describe it, and yet he keeps his job while the other power players topple.
· Trump praises foreign dictators—Putin, Erdogan, Duterte—and insults the leader of Europe’s strongest, prosperous, generous, peaceful democracy—Merkel.
· Trump is doing everything possible to put industry in charge of dismantling environmental regulations.
· Trump is appointing Supreme Court “Justices” who are shifting the decisions toward jingoism, xenophobia, and unconstitutional, anti-democratic nationalistic insularity.
· Trump is targeting Muslims, Mexicans, and others with his racist tweets, presidential orders, and auto-cannibalistic appointments.
· Trump and Kim Jong Un are doing the most demonic death dance ever, like little sociopaths who simply do not care about the annihilation of millions.
· Trump’s encouragement to the most brutal police has created a new level of racial fear felt first and familiarly in the African American communities but now in a toxic spreading reciprocity.
· Trump lies pretty much every time he discusses and denies the Russian roles in getting him elected and is now squirming to avoid the law as embodied in Mueller’s investigation.
And this is only the short list. We are losing public lands, gaining the ridicule and revulsion of citizens from around the world, and watching the shreds and loose threads of a social safety net for our most vulnerable blowing in this gale of bad policy.
What can we do?
Well, what did women do to finally get the vote? What did blacks do to finally end segregation? What did migrant workers do to form a union? What did Native Americans do to finally reaffirm long-abrogated treaty rights? What did British Gold Coast Africans do to end colonial rule? What did Filipinas and Filipinos do to depose Ferdinand Marcos? What did Serbs do to knock Slobodan Milosevic out of office? What did Tunisians do to overthrow dictator Ben Ali?
In all these cases and many more, people finally decided to take that latent power that is always there—nonviolent people power—organize it, recruit mass numbers to their movement, and use it strategically to earn victory. Yes, they worked at it. Yes, they sacrificed. And they won, with far far far fewer costs than if they would have either shrunk from engagement or engaged in violence.
Our power is in our hands if we take it off the table—and if we don’t, the greedy elite will take it all again. Our power, our choice.

What a Satyagrahi Knows

This guest post was contributed by George Cassidy Payne, the founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International. He is also a writer, a domestic violence counselor, and an adjunct professor of philosophy. George lives and works in Rochester, NY. You can follow him on LinkedIn. The most powerful force in the universe is not electromagnetism, gravity or time. The greatest force in the universe is Satyagraha, which technically means a firm or steadfast adherence to Truth. Satyagraha is the most powerful force in the universe because it is the universe. It is the moral dimension of the universe revealing itself through social and political action. Mohandas Gandhi coined the term in 1906 while leading a nonviolent resistance movement against the British. He wrote: None of us knew what name to give to our movement. I then used the term “passive resistance” in describing it. I did not quite understand the implication of “passive resistance” as I called it. I only knew that some new principle had come into being. As the struggle advanced, the phrase “passive resistance” gave rise to confusion and it appeared shameful to permit this great struggle to be known only by an English name… I thus began to call the Indian movement “satyagraha,” that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence, and gave up the use of the phrase “passive resistance” in connection with it, so much so that even in English writing we often avoided it and used instead the word “satyagraha” itself or some other equivalent English phrase. This then was the genesis of the movement which came to be known as Satyagraha, and of the word used designation for it. Tactically, there are four main components that must be in place to activate Satyagraha. Firstly, a Satyagrahi must comprehend that all life is interconnected. From the ant to the aurora borealis, all life forms-including physical, mental and spiritual-are one at the source of their creative purpose. The second principle is that persuasion overcomes coercion. That is to say, there is a long term advantage to convincing an adversary to understand and empathize with your perspective. Compelling opponents through intimidation or bribery is only temporarily effective, and it always has unintended consequences. Thirdly, a Satyagrahi knows that ends and means must be aligned. Mohandas Gandhi referred to a surgeon who uses contaminated tools and expects a successful operation, which is an attitude that is both illogical and irresponsible. Fourthly, a Satyagrahi is transparent in all matters. In any struggle the truth is pursued in good faith, with an open mind, and with sincerity. Gandhi once wrote, “Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.” Underlining each of these four components is a conscious belief in the spectacle of bravery—the type that can only be manifested through […]

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Following the Footsteps of Gandhi (NV Radio)

Vinoba Bhave (above) Dr. Geeta Mehta talks with Nonviolence Radio about her experiences with Vinoba Bhave, one of Gandhiji’s closest associates/students, and founder of the incredible land-gift movement. Then, Michael and Stephanie affirm the power of nonviolence with their inspiring dose of Nonviolence in the News from around the world.

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