Maintain Nonviolent Discipline. Be Creative.

Dear Metta Community, 

We have heard from many of you. With you, we are in grief in learning of the violent murder of George Floyd and the on-going crisis posed by our criminal justice system especially toward the safety and security of black lives. 

It’s especially painful when throughout our Covid-19 pandemic, there have been so many episodes of constructive action and love, of community and bridge building, of mutual support, of glimpsing something powerful and good about human nature in the midst of crisis. We should not lose sight of that in ourselves as we are now confronted with an escalation of an already violent situation that triggers such grief, rage, and anger in so many of us. Those emotions are packed full of power, and yes, they can get out of control and cause destruction in their wake, if we are not careful in maintaining self-discipline. 

We must all act from the voice of our own conscience. To that end, we call upon all of the Metta Center’s friends and allies to maintain nonviolent discipline in Thought, Word, and Deed at this time, even more than feels natural or easy to you right now. Nonviolence isn’t easy. But that’s what we all signed up for, isn’t it?

What does this look like? 

In Thought: When we find ourselves feeling violent toward another person, we find a way to get space from that person until we know that they (and we) are safe from our own violence. Then, we use our creativity and insight to “put ourselves in their shoes.” What do they really want? What do we have in common?

In Word: Even when it’s hard, we use words that bring healing and show respect as a discipline and training. When we don’t have words that can do that, we use our silence as our words.

In Deed: We refuse to hurt or harm others with our actions. We try our best to maintain this commitment at all costs. We protect others, even at the risk of ourselves and our own comforts if necessary. 

Try not to get into ideological arguments about nonviolence right now. We know nonviolence works and have confidence in that assertion. It’s not a surprise that so many people do not understand it, even those who profess to use it, no matter where they are on the political spectrum. Organizations like ours that teach and support nonviolence education are extremely underfunded and undervalued. That doesn’t stop us from doing all that we can, nor should it stop you, as frustrating as it can be sometimes. 

This is a time to be sensitive and engaged. Empathize instead. Show people that you care about them and that your caring extends far and wide. Listen to people. You are a force for peace. Know that. Be that. And then, get creative. Protest actions only get us so far and can be easily manipulated by agents provocateurs. We need long-term constructive and creative solutions. Systemic answers to systemic problems. Profound cultural shifts. We need to give our lives to this work, and invite others to do the same through our unflinching commitment. Support nonviolence education. 

We care about you. Even though it’s a very challenging time, it’s heartening to think of all of you out there and know that each one of you, in your own way, is seeking to make your own contribution to ending violence in our world. Please, be gentle with yourself and others. Even while being firm and clear.

You’re in this for the long-term. And we’re here for you and with you.

With care, 

Stephanie Van Hook, Executive Director
Michael Nagler, President

PS: Michael’s latest book, The Third Harmony, which explores our human nature and capacity for nonviolence, is being generously gifted at 30% off with free shipping from his wonderful B-Corp publisher right now. A great time for a book study or for introducing these ideas to your classroom. Find it here.