Metta’s Opinion

The Time for Silence is Over

Grasping the Reality of Nonviolence

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The Background:

With a rainbow pin on his lapel, signifying–on that day at least–the most recent gun massacre in the United States, Congressman John Lewis made an impassioned cri de coeur before members of Congress and the people of this country: the time for silence is over. “Sometimes,” he said, “you have to do something out of the ordinary.” And that’s just what they did: he and other members of his party put their bodies in the way of the daily operations of the Congress, by using a nonviolent tactic known as a sit-in–when you occupy a space in order to dramatize an unmet need; in this case, the need to do something for gun control on behalf of the American people who put them in office to strengthen their common security. While the Speaker of the House had the C-Span cameras turned off, in an effort to censor what was taking place–knowing the power of the media–others whipped out their phones, sent a live-feed to Periscope, and C-Span picked it up anyway. It was “out of the ordinary,” indeed. It was the first time an event of this scale had taken place in the U.S. Congress. Lewis himself, of course, is a legendary Civil Rights-era nonviolent activist. He knows perhaps a little more about nonviolence, from first-hand experience, than just about any of his colleagues, to say the least, if not many of us watching. After 26 hours, the congresspeople end the sit-in, and Congressman Lewis claims it as a victory. (more…)

Nonviolence Education Call #1: Breaking Down Conflict

MLK gandhi book

This summer, the Metta Center for Nonviolence is hosting a series on nonviolence education and building community that particularly focuses on how and why nonviolence can be particularly effective for reconciling conflict in schools.

Special guest Robin Wildman, a nonviolence educator from Broad Rock Middle School in Rhode Island with 25 years of teaching experience, leads this three-part series on June 9th, July 14th, and August 4th from 5 – 6pm PST (register here). Topics include breaking down conflict, understanding core nonviolence principles, and reconciling conflict.

Throughout, participants are encouraged to read Letter from a Birmingham Jail and King’s Pilgrimage to Nonviolence. (more…)

Restorative Practices & Social Change Action

This is Part 2 of a two-part blog post. Part 1 looked at preparing for holding a difficult conversation about poverty. Here, I clarify how restorative practices might help facilitate a conversation about poverty and what to do to address poverty.


The preparations I mentioned in Part 1 included recollecting thoughts on the matter, nonviolent communication practice, and familiarity with using RPS circles. Perhaps we might also assume that interest in poverty emerged from previous discussions and that all participants are engaged in the conversation and have developed relationships and rapport through previous circle-based conversations. (more…)

Restorative Practices & Difficult Conversations

This will be a two-part blog post. In this first part, I focus on preparation for holding a difficult conversation about poverty, and in the second, I will clarify how restorative practices might help facilitate a conversation about poverty and what to do to address poverty.


In an earlier post about addressing misconceptions often made associated with restorative practices (RPS), I mentioned that educators may be hesitant to employ RPS because RPS might reveal some real sources of problems that emerge in schools through honest and critical dialogue with students. They may be concerned that conversations that take place in restorative circles might identify poverty and other forms of systematic exclusion and marginalization as sources of problems that students experience at school.

Given that these conversations emerge within the social bounds of schools (as opposed to in the broader community, where poverty is largely reproduced), some educators are concerned that addressing these problems will reproduce neoliberal tendencies in which addressing problems are relegated to the individual, or an individual school, and away from broader sociopolitical structures.

In turn, I suggested that RPS are critical for talking through and coordinating more comprehensive approaches (e.g. community organizing, legal advocacy, leadership development, action research, and other approaches) to address such sources of problems. However, I did not discuss how RPS might be relevant to a meaningful conversation about poverty and considering subsequent action. Thus I will consider: (more…)

The Trump Question: Are You Listening?

lovetrumps copyMaybe, instead of rallying against Trump the man, we could connect with his supporters. And maybe that’s the only thing that will do any good.

Trump seems to embody everything wrong with this country, at least in the circles I run in. He’s the American Ego run rampant, an American bogeyman. Recently, I overheard my daughter and some friends having an impromptu comedy show in the living room. Suddenly, their giggles turned to raucous peals of laughter. They had decided to make Trump the butt every joke in their comedy routine.

Meanwhile, my Facebook feed was overrun by post after post shaming Trump for the controversial things he says and slamming his supporters for being either too dumb or two bigoted to know any better. In the real world, protesters were turning up the heat on Trump, obstructing him in every way they could, but no matter how riled-up his opponents got and no matter what terrible things he said, Trump’s popularity continued to grow.

In early April, I attended the (absolutely amazing) Person Power Yoga retreat that Metta Center hosted and, quite unsurprisingly, Trump was a topic that popped up over and over. On the second day of the retreat, at the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) presentation lead by Lou Zweier, a novel idea began to scratch at my cerebral cortex. Through the lens of NVC, behind all communication there is a need that wants to be fulfilled: security, respect, love, understanding, connection, attention, accomplishment, safety, creativity, the list goes on. I began to wonder, what are the needs that are attracting people to Trump?

(more…)

New Story: The Essay & The Film

In his 1978 essay “The New Story: Comments on The Origination and Transmission of Values,” Thomas Berry essentially coined the term “the New Story.”

In that essay, he spoke of a troubling disregard of the earth by both religion and science. “The earth will not be ignored, nor will it long endure being despised, neglected, or mistreated,” he wrote. “The limitations of redemption rhetoric and the scientific rhetoric can both be seen, and a new more integral language of being and value can emerge.” (Read and/or download the 17-page essay.) (more…)

Campaign Nonviolence: Call Recap

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Each month, Campaign Nonviolence (CNV) hosts a National Conference Call to build community and share ideas for participating in CNV’s upcoming Action Week in September.

April’s call was held yesterday. Moderated by activist/author Rivera Sun, the 60-min conversation packed in plenty of inspiration and take-action tips. At the start of the call, Ken Butigan (Pace e Bene’s director) and Rev. John Dear (Pace e Bene’s outreach coordinatior) recalled their recent experiences at the first-ever nonviolence conference at the Vatican, where participants called for an end to the Just War theory in favor of a Just Peace doctrine. For Ken, a highlight was acknowledging Church violence, an important step in turning toward nonviolence. He then called for all of us to do the same: to look at the violences within our own traditions so as to turn them toward nonviolence. (more…)

Rethinking Earth Day Celebrations

The following piece is and adapted version of a post that originally appeared on the Peace Resource Center of San Diego’s (PRCSD) Facebook page. Stephanie Knox Cubbon, Director of Education at the Metta Center, serves on the PRCSD board.


 

Every year for Earth Day, San Diego holds Earth Fair, which bills itself as the “largest annual free environmental fair in the world.” Last year, I rode my bike to Balboa Park, where the fair takes place, a bike route that I frequent as I go about town. The difference on this particular day was the traffic: normally not congested, it was bumper-to-bumper, and I huffed and puffed my way up the steep hill, choking on the exhaust coming out of the cars. This is no way to celebrate Earth Day! I thought. There should be less traffic on Earth Day, not more…

Things only got worse as I got to the park. Consumerism was rampant, and booth after booth was selling things—cheap t-shirts, junk food, things we don’t need. I felt a sense of dismay. The spirit of so many people wanting to come out and celebrate the Earth was positive, and seeing people come out to enjoy the park on a beautiful day and be in community was lovely, but how we were celebrating this day—a day originally intended for awareness-raising and conservation—troubled me. It seemed like we were missing the point. The very event that was supposed to celebrate and care for the Earth was committing violence against it, with all the pollution, over-consumption and waste being generated. Is this really how the Earth would want us to celebrate her? I kept thinking, and How does the Earth want to be celebrated? (more…)