by Miki Kashtan
New to this blog? Read Miki’s Introduction to this series ‘All -in: fully committing to a life of nonviolence’ before getting started. Check in every other week on Mondays for a new commitment and practice for daily living. If you feel called, please comment on posts and engage with one another.
Nonviolent Struggle: Even when afraid of consequences, I want to be ready to struggle with others in support of transforming social structures using nonviolent means to create a world that embraces everyone’s needs. If I find myself retreating into the comfort of my life or developing anger or hatred towards those whose actions I want to transform, I want to seek support to bring my intention back to maintaining love and care for the humanity and dignity of everyone and using the least amount of force necessary to support an ultimate solution that works for all.
How far can a human heart open before the suffering of others propels us to take action to create change in the world beyond our own living? How much generosity can we cultivate before recognizing that our own resources, alone, can only go so far, and begin to dream of a worldwide flow of giving and receiving? How long can we live, individually, based on a consciousness of needs before we envision entire systems based on putting human needs at the center?
There is no doubt that our very presence becomes an inspiration when our level of inner freedom and acceptance allows us to live the radical principles of nonviolence. When we repeatedly embody empathic presence regardless of circumstances, people will notice. When we speak truth even in the face of power differences, we encourage others to be less afraid. When we care for everyone’s needs, not only our own, and without ever giving up on ours, we implicitly invite others to join us.
Still, if we want everyone’s needs to matter in the world, something more than a personal practice, no matter how strong, will be necessary.
Gandhi’s journey into political involvement started when he was deeply hurt by the insults he suffered at the hands of the British. His soul had burned before he began the spiritual quest for truth that healed him of those hurts. That quest, to which he referred as “experiments in truth,” included becoming a political leader as an extension of his spiritual practice.
It may well be that people who, unlike Gandhi, King, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others, have not been deeply, personally hurt by social/political harms in a conscious way are often hard to enlist in actual campaigns: they tend to be more in love with the spiritual solution than with applying it to do something in the world about the hurts suffered by others.
Still, many of us do combine a personal spiritual practice with being committed to social transformation. For those who are, or are seriously considering it, I offer this 18th commitment.
Practice: Simple and intense: every day, do all you can, and not more, to bring about a world that works for all while maintaining a rigorous awareness of your way of being in the world, so that inner and outer align. This way, we both be and create the change we want to see.
Miki Kashtan is a co-founder of Bay Area Nonviolent Communication (BayNVC). She is inspired by the role of visionary leadership in shaping a livable future, and works toward that vision by sharing the principles and practices of Nonviolent Communication through mediation, meeting facilitation, consulting, and training for organizations and for committed individuals. Miki blogs at the Fearless Heart. Her articles have appeared in Tikkun magazine (e.g.Wanting Fully Without Attachment), Waging Nonviolence (e.g. Pushing the powerful into a moral corner at India’s Barefoot College), Shareable, and elsewhere.