Posts by Metta Center

Law of Progression

Mahatma Gandhi defined the Law of Progression during his early years in South Africa. In his own words: “My experience has taught me that a law of progression applies to every righteous struggle. But in the case of Satyagraha the law amounts to an axiom. As the Ganga advances, other streams flow into it … .… read more

Coercion vs. Persuasion

Coercion vs. persuasion is a term used to compare tactics. It is the description of two possible means to an end. Ideally, nonviolence works by opening the heart of the opponent, in other words, by persuading them to voluntarily change their belief or action. Coercion on the other hand, employs threat power so that one… read more

“Work” vs. Work

The distinction, “work” vs. work is necessary to stress that the beneficial results of nonviolent action often lie in the future. “Work” means the immediate and obvious effects, while work without quotes designates the resulting underlying and fundamental shifts brought about by nonviolence. In other words, it means not “got what we wanted,” “does good… read more


Ahimsa (the ‘m’ is nasal, like dans in French, the ‘a’ is long) is the ancient Sanskrit term usually translated as, and possibly the model for, ‘nonviolence.’  The translation is unfortunate, however, in that such negative compounds in Sanskrit were more positive in effect than the corresponding, literal translations in English.  Abhaya, for example, literally… read more


Gandhi used the Sanskrit word Satyagraha, meaning “clinging to truth,” in reference to his campaigns in South Africa and India, such as the famous Salt Satyagraha march of 1930.  Satyagraha can be understood as the vast inner strength or “soul force” required for nonviolent acts. Gandhi never defined nonviolence as passive resistance because he saw… read more


Dehumanization is seeing an individual or a group as lacking human qualities.  Dehumanization occurs when an individual or group establishes in their belief system that another individual or group is inferior. While no one can clearly define all the reasons for violent action, most sociologists and historians believe that dehumanization is a clear antecedent to… read more

Paradox of Repression

When repression becomes so oppressive that it forges its own demise, we arrive at the paradox: use of violent repression can contribute to the instability of the regime that sponsors it. Repression is an invasive force that has the potential to occupy every corner of civic and political space. It is a total system, whose… read more

Threat Power

Threat Power is one of three forces identified by Kenneth Boulding, Quaker peace theorist and economist that play roles in human interaction. Underlying Threat Power is a simple equation: Unless you perform or yield X, I will do Y. Y almost always involves violence, whether physical, emotional, psychological or structural. Threat Power has attained a… read more

Exchange Power

Exchange power is the second of Quaker peace theorist and economist Kenneth Boulding’s “three faces of power.”  Exchange Power comes into play in most of our every-day actions, for example, economic transactions when we say, “I will give you Y, if you perform or yield X.”  Exchange Power may or may not be coercive, so… read more

Integrative Power

Integrative power is the third and least understood of Quaker peace theorist and economist Kenneth Boulding’s “three faces of power.” Integrative power can be articulated as “I will take positive action to represent the truth as I see it, and I have faith that in the process we will draw closer in our relationship.” Boulding… read more