Posts by Prof. Michael Nagler

Beyond Techniques: Daily Metta

“Only those who realize that there is something in man which is superior to the brute nature in him, and that the latter always yields to it, can effectively be Passive Resisters.” ~ Gandhi in December 1914, from Gandhi: Essential Writings, by K.K. Ramana Murti This would seem to be a tall order! But without… read more

Love as “Punishment”: Daily Metta

“The only way love punishes is by suffering.” ~ Gandhi, Mahatma, II: 87 Just as William James spoke of the “moral equivalent of war,” in the universe of nonviolence there is a precise “equal but opposite” equivalent to every feature of violence. Gandhi hit on this one early, when some teenagers misbehaved in his first… read more

“Envisioning a Future Without War”

December 20: “Exploitation and domination of one nation over another can have no place in  world striving to put an end to all war.” –Gandhi (Press Statement, April 17, 1945)  One of my favorite fields of serious academic study is called Futurism or Future Studies. I find it intriguing because we certainly study history (or… read more

The New Abnormal: Reflections on Paris

paris police

We are hearing expressions of shock and sympathy for Paris on all sides, which is appropriate as far as it goes – but it’s not nearly enough. It is clear now that instead of lurching from crisis to crisis, we need to get off this disastrous path. After expressing our condolences we should be saying, “Let… read more

Who We Are: The Spirit Behind Mothers’ Day

There was a time  years ago when I was reading Plato very closely – I was studying at Heidelberg at that time – and had a flash of insight about who Socrates really was. What I saw was not something I could easily share with my fellow students, then or now: that both Socrates and Jesus were at… read more

Free Speech and Responsibility

Michael Nagler during the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, CA.

I cut my teeth as a political activist in the famous Free Speech Movement of 1964-65, and still get emotional when I hear some of the fiery speeches of Mario Savio from that day. Though the issue that sparked the movement was racism (discrimination in housing, to be exact) the rallying cry was free speech… read more

Beyond Ferguson: the Deeper Issue

Michael Nagler’s op-ed as seen here first appeared at on December 4, 2014. You may also want to read The Shanti Sena Network’s response to Ferguson we posted last week. It can only be a good thing that the attention of the nation is focused on the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson,… read more

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who Shall Guard the Guardians?)

Originally posted on Tikkun Daily Blog on October 23, 2014. I’ve just come from a three-hour conversation with Pietro Ameglio Patella, prominent Mexican professor and nonviolent activist, and an old friend. He was in the country with his friend Carlos Moreno who has been searching for his son for three years without any cooperation from… read more

Ferguson: this is what losing democracy looks like

(orig. posted in Tikkun online) by: Michael N. Nagler on August 21st, 2014 Some time back in the early fifties the U.S. Navy conducted an “exercise” to test bacterial warfare…in San Francisco!  They sprayed bacterial agents into the fog over the Bay to “see what would happen.”  Sure enough, some people got sick, and one elderly gentleman died. … read more

Israel and Palestine Can Never Be Secure Until Both Are Secure

Published on Truthout on August 4, 2014. Palestinian children try to pull a praying carpet out from the rubble of the Imam Shafi’i Mosque in Gaza City, Aug. 2, 2014. (Photo: Sergey Ponomarev / The New York Times) In The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, the short story by Ursula Le Guin about an imaginary… read more