Metta’s Opinion

Pledge of Protection and Nonviolent Resistance

To ensure continued progress toward a world of peace, justice, and dignity for all, I HEREBY PLEDGE with love and determination that, for as long as required and as long as I am able, I will:

PROTECT my home, Planet Earth, by RESISTING attitudes and actions that compromise the living systems that sustain all Life;

PROTECT the social fabric of my country by RESISTING attitudes and actions that marginalize others through prejudice, scapegoating, or other forms of hatred and division;

PROTECT and strengthen the security of my country by RESISTING violence and militarization, especially in the mass media and our cultural and educational institutions; and

LEARN nonviolence principles and practice them in all available forms, constructive and obstructive, as a guiding principle in my own life and the way to resolve these issues permanently and well, for all concerned.

Would you like a copy of this pledge, to keep you inspired? We’ve created a PDF for you—just download it (and feel free to share it!).

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A note from us on the above image:

The Abhaya mudra is a gesture that represents peace, protection, and the dispelling of fear, as ‘abhaya’ means fearlessness. Notice that the hand is unarmed and friendly. Resistance in its highest state offers these qualities. This gesture can be accompanied by another mudra, one of an open palm, reaching outward, signifying that while we will protect what we hold dear, we uphold a fundamental unity between us. In other words, “I am open to you as a human being.” 

 

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“I will not cooperate with your injustice, but I am open to you as a human being.”

-the late nonviolence scholar and activist Barbara Demming on the “two hands of nonviolence.

 

It’s Time to Take Action

By George Payne

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

To passively accept the Trump agenda is to cooperate with evil. By evil, Dr. King always implied the forces of selfishness, pride, ignorance, and mercilessness that arise when the virtues of wisdom, love, compassion, and courage have been silenced.

With King’s prophetic words in mind, now is the time for the peace and justice community to respond with a unified, unambiguous, strategic voice of dissent against Donald Trump. Now is the time for creative disobedience and loving confrontation. It is not the time for mere passive disapproval and veiled complicity.

Since most people who oppose Trump are feeling incapacitated right now, the best way to overcome this sensation of helplessness is to do something constructive, hope inducing, and goal oriented with others. For expert help, the most prolific source of information about active nonviolence resistance is the work of Gene Sharp. (See more about Sharp’s methods at 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.)

If I had to choose a few immediate actions from Sharp’s list, I would recommend assemblies of protest or protest meetings. Public assemblies empower those in attendance and send a message to the opposition that there is an active community which is working behind the scenes and on the front lines.

Secondly, I believe that ostracism of persons can be effective if done with the right intention. Social boycott of Trump’s products, selective social boycotts of companies that are in business with Trump, and a variety of symbolic nonaction days can all have a powerful effect.

Thirdly, I would recommend action by holders of financial resources. Withdrawal of bank deposits, refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments, refusal to pay debts or interest, severance of funds and credit, revenue refusal and even refusal of government money can be potent forms of resistance.

Last but not least, peace and justice organizations should be mobilizing their members and constituents to physically intervene by engaging in sit-sins, stand-ins, ride-ins, wade- ins, mill-ins, and pray-ins.

There are so many ways to actively oppose Donald Trump by using nonviolent civil resistance, that perhaps the most consequential act is to do nothing at all. As King put it: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

George Payne
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College


A Note from Michael Nagler:

We are pleased to share this blog from our friend George Payne. We could not agree more that this is not a time for passivity. Indeed, Gandhi would call passivity a form of violence. To add to his apt quote from King, (I paraphrase) the problem is not that ill- intentioned people do so much but that well-intentioned people do so little.

However, there are several pretty major disagreements we at Metta would have with George’s article, some of which have no doubt already leapt out at our readers, and George and I agree that it might be instructive to list them here:

  •   Gene Sharp is no longer the “most prolific source of information about active nonviolence resistance.” Happily, a whole generation of top-notch scholars has become quite active, starting perhaps with the marvelous study of Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works. A whole new genre has arisen, and it goes far beyond Sharp’s invaluable pioneering work.
  •   Sharp got some public attention to nonviolence, but to do so he paid a price we regard as unfortunate: he ignored the deeper principles of “the greatest power humankind has been endowed with” and presented not nonviolence so much as non-violence; not the presence of that power but the mere political expedient of withdrawing ordinary power, namely consent from political oppression. One consequence was to focus all attention on one only of the infinite applications of real (principled) nonviolence, namely overthrowing oppressive regimes. Modern history (think of Egypt, for one example) shows that with this “strategic non- violence” you often only swap one set of dictators for another. But the deeper consequence is to stay within the “old paradigm” framework, which we think cuts off nonviolence from its future.
  •   The famous 198 techniques listed by Sharp therefore have to be sifted by the criteria of principled nonviolence (PNV). Some dozen or so of them are completely unacceptable by those criteria, for example those that advocate humiliation of the opponent; and so when George recommends “ostracism of persons” in his second recommendation for action we would have to demur. The very core of nonviolent power, virtually all major practitioners and advocates would agree, is the separation of the person from the deed: to “hate the sin but not the sinner.” In strategic nonviolence (SNV) á là Sharp (in his later work) the goal is to defeat the opponent; in PNV it is to win him or her over, if at all possible in the given time.
  •   Back up to recommendation #1: “protest meetings.” 90% of protests today are too little, too late. They apply only in stage one of our escalation curve, and the conflicts we will be facing are well beyond, deep in stage two.

This means that we are in complete agreement with George’s last two recommendations, which in fact represent a constructive and an obstructive approach. On a final note, then, it is a great thing that we are able to have this cordial discussion, even about things that mean a lot to both of us but on which we have some substantial agreements. If only the political discourse in America could return to that cordiality!

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Spotlight: Miroslava Sobot

Currently dividing her time between Austria and Croatia, Miroslava Sobot is a multidisciplinary graphic designer.

miroslava_sobotShe has been working on Metta Center projects for the last couple of years, from laying out brochures to designing the cover and interior of Stephanie Van Hook’s Gandhi’s Search for Truth: A Practical Biography for Children. It’s simply too much for one person to both edit and design a 60-page magazine (I know, because I’ve been that said person), so we also brought her on board to take over the layout of Nonviolence magazine (stay tuned for our Winter/Spring 2017 issue—it’s coming soon, and it’s incredible!). (more…)

Faith in a Time of Shock & Sorrow

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“If you lose,” the Dalai Lama once said, “don’t lose the lesson.” What is the lesson we must try to learn from this devastating election setback?

First that the anger, prejudice, and self-centeredness in this country is more widespread and deeper than we wanted to imagine. Second, that in the days to come we will have to struggle against much steeper odds than we thought. (more…)

Metta in San Diego: Roadmap Workshop!

 

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Attention Metta friends in San Diego! Stephanie Steiner, Metta’s Director of Education, will be having a Roadmap-themed workshop at the San Diego Peace Resource Center on Saturday, October 22 from 10am to 1pm. She would love to see you there!

Participation is free. Register here!

About the workshop:

Nonviolence is much more than simply the absence of violence – it is better described as “love in action” and is, as Martin Luther King said, a way of life for courageous people. The Metta Center’s Roadmap is a framework that individuals and groups can use to gain a sense of united nonviolent action and begin to design a strategy for concerted action along nonviolent lines leading to major, systemic change (some call it “The Great Turning.”). The message of the Roadmap is that “we all belong here” – everyone can find themselves and their passion within the roadmap, and realize that they are part of a bigger picture. Working together, we can create a powerful, nonviolent strategy for weaving our work together toward a safer and saner future.
In this participatory workshop, we will discuss nonviolence and related core concepts, the Roadmap model, and seek to find our places within it and how our work and passions are connected. It will include building community and connecting with others who are interested in practicing nonviolence in their daily lives and work. Together, we can be unstoppable!
The workshop will be facilitated by Stephanie Steiner, Director of Education at the Metta Center for Nonviolence, Peace Studies professor at San Diego City College and Chapman University, and board member of the Peace Resource Center.
We will start promptly at 10 – please arrive on time!
Please email Stephanie at education@mettacenter.org with any questions.

Gandhi’s Birthday 2016

October 2, 2016 is the 147th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.

A time for reflection, no doubt, and today that’s bound to be sobering. Violence is eroding the human mind, body, and spirit, indeed life in general, almost—but not quite everywhere. It is just about everywhere that most people would ever look, i.e. the mass media. You and I somehow have the privilege of looking elsewhere, which gives us a unique capacity and responsibility. Let me cite one examples of the great counter force launched by the man who was born 147 years ago on this day, who lay down his life for the cause that was symbolized in the charkha, or spinning wheel, after which he wanted October 2 to be remembered: charkha jayanti, “spinning wheel birthday.” (more…)

Gandhi Searches for Truth: Book FAQs

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After fielding some commonly asked questions about my new book, Gandhi Searches for Truth: A Practical Biography for Children, I thought it’d be useful to post my answers here, so that others may learn more about the book and Gandhi. Have questions about bulk orders for your school, bookstore, or library? Please email me for details: stephanie@mettacenter.org.


Why is it a “practical” biography? What is “practical” about it?

Gandhi referred to himself as a “practical idealist.” He wanted to take big ideas, like nonviolence, Truth, love and equality, and work them out in practice. At the same time, Gandhi is only practical if we understand and really take to heart that he was a human being, like us. We don’t have to think of Gandhi as though he were just a figure for the history books–we can look to him to empower ourselves to be brave enough to try things differently when necessary. (more…)

Heart of a Hero: A Kids’ Camp

The following is a guest blog post by Arvin Paranjpe.

two-girls-outsideAs a parent with absolutely no experience in teaching or leading kids, I had a crazy but faintly lucid idea:  I should start a week-long nonviolence camp for my six year-old daughter.

And so I did—with the help of my wife, several part-time parents, three volunteers, and six wonderful girls ranging from six to nine years old.

I had my reasons to start a nonviolence day camp, which we dubbed The Heart of a Hero Camp.  For one, I want my daughter, and all children, to live a life full of peace and love. Gandhi believed that if we are to reach real peace in this world—and if we are to carry on a real war against war—we must begin with our children. (more…)