Metta’s Opinion

Meditation in Schools: Part 2

happy-kids-jumping

This is the second post in a three-part blog post series on meditation in schools. The first post discussed ways to articulate what meditation is for school audiences. This part explains why meditation makes for more beneficial restorative practices.


One can think about restorative practices as a set of practices and structures that enable schools to manage and influence student behaviors in ways that keep students engaged with their learning and development. An alternative way to think about restorative practices is that relationships are fundamental to a lot of human functioning, including learning. Restorative practices provide ways to repair harmed relationships, provide ample opportunities to create new ones, while bolstering others. However we think about what restorative practices are in schools, meditation is a practice that helps enable the goals of each. (more…)

A Plea in Support of Standing Rock

This excerpted message from Mel Duncan went out to subscribers of Nonviolent Peaceforce’s newsletter (see the original).


The clearance of Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock is set to begin at 2:00 pm central time this afternoon.

Please call North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeirer and the Army Corps of Engineers to insist that law enforcement remain nonviolent, follow due process during arrests and treat all water protectors with the dignity they deserve.

Governor Doug Burgum: 701-328-2200

Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeirer: 701-667-3330

Army Corps of Engineers: 202-761-8700 (more…)

The Week in Nonviolence

I interrupt my usual sequence (resources, news, events) with a PSA:  Metta is hosting two events this coming week: the talk by impressive Palestinian activist on Tuesday, Feb. 22 and the strategy discussion cum fundraiser at Aqus Café the following evening.

OK, back to schedule.

Resources.

To start with a bit of human interest: Arthur Harvey, the blueberry farmer of Canton, ME, who stocks a wide collection of books by and about Gandhi is still in business (both, blueberries and books).  I have sent many seekers his way over the years.  Happy to add that Arthur has led a successful fight for organic standards.

Here’s something we can all use today:  a guide to reliable news!

There are so many calls to action we cannot list them all here, but Pace e Bene is keeping track of them.  Remember also the Nonviolence Training Hub.

News.

Last week at UC, Berkeley “antifas” (anti-fascist activists) used disruptive tactics like breaking windows and launching fireworks at the police to shut down an impending talk by the extreme right agitator, Milo Yiannapoulos, raising many questions about free speech and “diversity of tactics.”  See my blog about it here, but I want to quote the words of one of them (who wishes to remain nameless): “We get a lot of heat for physical confrontation but that’s the sort of language that is spoken by neo-Nazis,” he said. “That’s the only thing they understand.”  The part I italicized is said by every actor down the ages to justify his/their use of violence.  Hitler, in Mein Kampf, warned that Gandhi would never succeed (!) because ‘we Germans have learned to our cost that the British understand nothing but force.’  There is no human being who cannot be reached by nonviolence; that is basic to our vision.

The People’s Climate Mobilization or People’s Climate Movement is organizing a country-wide arc of action, culminating on April 29th in Washington DC.  From the Austin, TX webpage: “We will put hundreds of thousands of people in the streets to oppose Trump’s fossil fuel agenda and show that there’s massive momentum behind a 100% clean energy economy that works for all.”

These are tense times at Standing Rock.  As expected, the new President, himself invested in big oil and a denier of climate change (more in a second), moved swiftly to authorize the Army Corps of Engineers to drop their environmental impact study and Energy Transfer, Inc. to proceed with the final hookup of the pipeline.  Tribal elders have called on remaining protectors to leave the area and switch to legal battles – a fair example, I guess, of going over to Constructive Program when satyagraha is not a good option. Yet others vow “every day a day of action” and still others claim that built or not built, oil will never flow through that pipeline.  Nonviolent Peaceforce has, I think, built up its team of twelve and we await reports as things continue to unfold.

The present crisis has called forth organization and resistance from an amazing variety of groups, some of which for the first time ever: scientists e.g. the Union of Concerned Scientists; also hundreds of academics signed an open letter to Trump calling for action on climate change, and others are planning a march on Washington in April.  Bookstores around the country are seeing themselves as hubs (cells?) of resistance, etc.  A group of distinguished healthcare professionals has written a letter, published by the NY Times, diagnosing a dangerous instability in the President.  This is an unheard of and essentially unethical thing to do by the standards of their profession, and that raises and interesting question: would it be more unethical in a larger sense to not use their expertise to warn the public of a clear and present danger?

Speaking of the President’s denial of climate change and much broader rejection of science itself, we are strongly reminded that for Gandhiji nonviolence itself was a close second – to Truth.  It is in the honest, unswerving search for Truth that we discover the necessity of nonviolence.  Conversely, alas, the sweeping dedication to violence in the present administration involves them in a total disregard for truth.  Fifty years of powerful advertising, in my view, has drawn us away from the habit of truth to an extremely dangerous degree.

On a happier note: our own Stephanie Steiner (née Knox Cubbon?) attended the 11th annual Moral Monday March in Raleigh, NC.  80,000 Stephanie reports, “This year, the Moral March focused on our moral duty to stand against the repeal of the life-saving Affordable Care Act, gerrymandering, the repeal of HB2 (the bathroom bill), and the extremism of …” you know whom.  “The movement has made a number of legislative gains over the years and is committed to the 14-point People’s Agenda, which you can find on the website hkonj.com.”

In keeping with our commitment to follow Nonviolent Peaceforce, this just in from Mel Duncan, co-founder and Director of Outreach: “I have just returned from the field where I have had the opportunity to visit some of our field sites and see our civilian protectors at work.  Amid extreme violence and chaos they are saving lives.…We have a team of 21 at Bentiu (South Sudan) where 129,000 people have fled violence.  The majority are women and children.  My heart has broken many times on this trip.  Yet, there are glimmers and rays of hope as embodied by the women’ groups … who are organizing women’s peacekeeping teams. Their Spirit is strong.  I am convinced that women will build the road to peace here.”

And the final word is from Ariel Dorfman, the courageous journalist who (barely) lived through the nightmare of Chile’s dictatorship, writing for in the NYT last week (the mainstream does come through from time to time): “The mountains of Chile tell us that if we are brave enough, resourceful enough, imaginative enough, then nothing in this miraculous world is impossible.”

Meditation in Schools: Part 1

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I contend that effectively implementing meditation makes for more beneficial restorative practices in schools.

This three-part blog post discusses ways to articulate what meditation is for school audiences, why meditation makes for more beneficial restorative practices, and some characteristics of what an effective implementation of meditation might look like.

Based on my lived experience and work with diverse youths, I believe that meditation offers a fundamental way to navigate our social and emotional worlds, so that we can better function and achieve our goals. It has helped me with myriad aspects of my life, and it can help students more fully engage with their social and academic lives. (more…)

Disturbance at UC Berkeley: A Few Thoughts

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RESONATING as it did with widespread feelings of frustration and impotence, the “successful” action last week to prevent right-wing agitator Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at the invitation of student Republicans on the Berkeley campus has been met with a certain grudging admiration even by those in the peace and nonviolence fold. This, while understandable on the emotional level, I regard as a huge mistake (hence the quotes above around “successful”). It was feelings of frustration and impotence that after all brought us to this pass, where the “world’s oldest democracy” has fallen victim to a kind of pre-fascist takeover; nothing less than a “soft coup” that’s still in place.

What could have been done instead? (more…)

Notes on Nonviolence Strategy: Part 2

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This post is the second part of a two-part series. Part 1 looks at the outward aspects of strategy: creating a proactive, long-term nonviolent movement. This part turns to the inner aspects of strategy: exploring who we are as human beings and building meaningful lives.


Man appears to be the embodiment of want. Want is what he thinks about and want indeed is what he obtains. Contemplate your true being or else there will be want, wrong action, helplessness, distress, and death. ~ Anandamayi Ma

It occurs to me more and more as I listen to the arguments and discussions stirred up by the current crisis that in order to make sense of this crisis for ourselves and to one another we need to start much earlier, from something very basic. We need to ask ourselves, each one of us, three questions: (more…)

Notes on Nonviolence Strategy: Part 1

strategy-arrows

This first post looks at the outward aspects of strategy: creating a proactive, long-term nonviolent movement. The second part considers the inner aspects of strategy: exploring who we are as human beings and building meaningful lives.


It has been heartwarming to see the passion with which many Americans have said their “No!” to the policies of hatred and intolerance put forward by this extremely unfortunate administration. We are not and never will be a land of hate.

At the same time, passion must be harnessed. Nonviolence advocates and scholars are very aware of the limitations of what we call “the effervescence of the crowd.” As Erica Chenoweth, George Lakey, and others are pointing out, to prevail against the current barrage of attacks on our democracy – and moral character as a nation – we must be sure to develop the resurgent movement, with the following guidelines: (more…)

In 2017, I resolve to…

yellow-flowers-burst-through-wall

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I am a big fan of daily resolve. Each day brings the opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been, to renew our intentions and ideals. Flowers that gently bust through concrete is an apt visual of resolve: lay down your roots, stay determined and you’ll get there eventually.

The Metta Center’s Pledge of Nonviolent Resistance offers a unique take on daily resolve. As the title implies, the pledge largely centers on resisting harmful forces with love-in-action. The word “resistance” can trigger strong reactions like fear and anger for many of us. I find it helpful to work through these energies by remembering that resisting injustices, untruths and authoritarian styles of leadership is rooted in personal-societal transformation. (more…)