Category: nonviolence

“Basic Training” for Spiritual Warriors

Image of art from Kabul graffiti artist, Kabul Knights Joanna Macy talks about three tasks needed to bring in a world of spiritual progress: create new institutions, change the culture, and stop the worst of the damage. At Metta we feel that the worst of the damage has been to the human image – who are we and what can we become. Stop that damage, and we’ve laid the groundwork for all the other changes. There are five things each of us can do to recover a saner image of who we are, whether we think of ourselves as peace activists or not. We can all do them, every day, and thus they answer somewhat to Gandhi’s famous charkha, or spinning campaign at the heart of his work to reform and liberate India. Organizations and campaigns will grow out of this kind of personal change.[1] The first might be called “out with the old:” Shun the violence and vulgarity of the mass media. Long before television, the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “the only thing we can control, and the only thing we need to control, is the imagery in our own mind.”[2] More recently Judy Cannato brought this up to date: “the images that engage our imagination …shape who we become. It happens all the time. We simply do not notice. But what if we were to notice? What if we were to be intentional about engaging our energy in a story that we know has the power to change our lives?[3] What indeed! When we take charge of our mind we will find we are actually mastering a power that puts us in charge of our own destiny ¾ and to that extent the future of the world. Martin Luther King lamented, “We have guided missiles and misguided men (and women).” And we know what has misguided them: we have put the enormous compelling power of the media in the hands of people who have no idea how to use the power they are wielding. Gandhi warned, in 1925, that while “The political domination of England is bad enough, the cultural is infinitely worse. When the cultural domination is complete the political will defy resistance.” The beginning of shaking off that domination is when we take charge of our inner culture. Think of it as a cleanse for the mind, which is if anything more important than one for the body. You may be thinking, ‘But if I don’t watch the violence and vulgarity, there’ll be nothing left to watch.’ Well you know, there are worse fates! And besides, alternative media are growing on all sides, some of which we try to keep up with on our bi-weekly program, “Nonviolence Radio.” And now, it’s “in with the new.” Learn everything you can about nonviolence. Nonviolence, it turns out, is an extraordinarily rich subject. Its theory, history, and methodology are inspiring: a powerful antidote to today’s demoralization. Today, while it has made so far only tentative inroads into formal education […]

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A Yoga-Based Practice for Body, Mind & Spirit

This past Sunday, we wrapped with Week 3 of the 2018 Certificate in Nonviolence Studies course. Part of the week’s learning focus was observing our desires to do harm, for the purpose of eradicating these impulses.
Eradicating means to pull up b…

Memorial Day: A Reflection

I regard myself as a soldier, though as a soldier of peace. ~M.K. Gandhi~

We bow our heads in reverence to all those who have given their lives in witness to the truth, or had it taken from them in that effort; who upheld peace and justice in the fa…

Protection without Violence: Podcast

At the United Nations on Thursday, 24 May, the missions of Australia and Uruguay hosted a Side Event on “Sustaining Peace and Preventing Violence Through Unarmed Civilian Protection”  following an open-ended debate in the Security Council …

Constructive Dialogue: Workshop

Creating Constructive Dialogue: Using Empathy Circle practice to connect across differences
Learn some key principles and a simple practice that helps create understanding and empathy among people regardless of their differences. Structural attributes …

Tools and Principles of Nonviolence: Workshop

“Nonviolence is the greatest power at the disposal of humanity.” ~Gandhi

 
Conflict is inevitable, violence is not. In this workshop, we will dive into the transformative power of nonviolence, which, when properly understood and crea…

Harnessing Power as a Community: Workshop

There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about. ~Meg Wheatley

Building community is more than getting to know our neighbors–it is about building our power together to be a force for security, safety, heali…

Not just a billboard, a story

On my rare visits to LA, I am always impressed (negatively) by the blatant violence of the billboards advertising films and TV. This past weekend was no exception. Apparently, there are fashions in violence. A while back it was crime, then a particular…

THE POST: A (somewhat biased) review

For full disclosure, I’m a long-term friend of Dan and Patricia Ellsberg, was a more distant friend but also admirer of Ben Bagdikian, I lived through the era depicted, and since I see very few movies I tend to have strong reactions to those I do. That said, I had a very strong, very positive reaction to this Stephen Spielberg film about the decision by Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep), supported by her editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), to publish the devastating “Pentagon Papers” in 1971. I cannot remember being so engrossed in a movie, and while it was not as transcendentally inspiring perhaps as “Gandhi” it was uplifting and spell-binding for me. It depicts a “finest hour” of American democracy, which itself would make it more than relevant to our America’s present dismal time; add to this, however, the superb treatment of the women’s issue and the just plain great acting. Advisory: if you go in expecting the film to be about Ellsberg and his struggle with himself to risk everything to release the devastating news to the public, or the role Patricia played in supporting him, you will be disappointed. That story is in the superb documentary by Judith Ehrlich, “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” as well as Dan’s book Secrets and many other histories. The mark of a great film-maker (or novelist, for that matter) is to have the restraint to tell one story at a time. I appreciate that enormously, as one who has yet to find that kind of restraint. Now the Metta angle: what does the film say about nonviolence? A lot. First of all, how raw courage and the power of that act of will by which a man or woman, seeing beyond the ordinary vision of personal gain and loss, decides to risk even perhaps their life for a higher cause. In Dan’s case, his career and his very freedom, e.g. to be with the wife he loved. In Ms. Graham’s case, the paper she loved and lived for along with the rebuttal of the stereotype against women, that they can’t compete in the “real world” of business, or places of cutthroat competition. Then there’s the glimpse it offers of what Johan Galtung named the “Great Chain of Nonviolence:” the way people low on the social/political latter, seemingly without access to power, can reach the seats of the mighty through those near them, who know others on up the chain. In this case the spectrum goes from street protestors (as I was) to an insider like Dan who “saw the light” (itself a lesson in the humanity and convertibility of our opponents) to the upper echelons of journalism and government. Then, a larger lesson of the more sobering type. Would a whistle-blower on that scale enjoy the protection of the Supreme Court today? What must we do to capitalize on these moments of brilliant courage when they happen; to make sure they are ratcheted up to permanent and beneficial change?

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