–Gandhi (Young India, April 25 1929)
A friend recently offered an approach to peacebuilding and nonviolent resistance that I thought fascinating: working together in teams of two. The idea is ancient, he said, thinking about the Jewish fathers who would study in the sacred Torah in pairs as one example. In many ways, he believes, the effectiveness of “teams of two” is hardwired into our brains as an alliance of power. Think of it as having an exercise buddy–people know that exercise can be more effective when we have someone else to go with us. And we also know that when we are alone in a large group, we don’t always tend to feel we fully belong or that we can fully express ourselves. Just one other person, however, changes the whole dynamic.
For years at Metta Center we have been talking about Gandhi’s “charkha,” the spinning wheel, and how everyone in the Indian Freedom Struggle spun and wove, so what would be the “charkha” of today? One hypothesis is that we are vying not for our basic needs anymore; rather, we are struggling to raise the human image at its core. Raise the human image. What would happen if everyone who committed themselves to nonviolence began their work by finding a buddy and practised raising the image of the human being through that person, and slowly, purposefully began to spread it outward through there? The image of the all contained in the one, and the one in the all.
When we go at nonviolence alone, we can find ourselves in very murky waters rather quickly, i.e. I was just nice to him and he still treated me like that. A partner for the work would be able very quickly to offer you empathy, understanding and conversation about nonviolence working at a deeper level. Not another group, just one other person who is committed to our well-being and us to theirs in an agreed-upon context, whether it be resisting nuclear weapons or deepening our commitment to daily meditation. And we can have multiple teams of two for the various issues we work on. No one person has to be our everything for everything we care about and dream about! It’s revolutionary…
My friend had a point: whatever we do, peace work should not be something we try doing alone. It can be physically, emotionally and at times spiritually challenging, and we can only do this work responsibly with other people. Gandhi would say that such an interdependent approach is our duty.
Experiment in Nonviolence:
Invite a friend to join you as a team of two for a study of Daily Metta, or to address a big issue about which you feel passionate.
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