Metta’s Opinion

The Practical Idealist: Metta’s Newsletter


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“How can there be room for distinctions of high and low where there is this all-embracing fundamental unity underlying the outward diversity?”
-Gandhi (Young India, September 24, 1921) 

Quick Links to Inspiration and Resources
Nonviolence Radio: Our Latest Episode
Find the Nonviolence Report on Facebook
Order the Nonviolence Handbook 
Order Gandhi Searches for Truth: A Practical Biography for Children
Enroll in 30 Days of Nonviolence and other Metta Courses 
Read Metta’s Thought for the Day

Volunteer Spotlight: Astrid Montuclard

Astrid Montuclard (right) with Diken Patel, a social activist and heartivist. Here, they are cleaning up a communal area in Udaipur, India, to make room for a seating area in a cafe based on gift culture. Photo courtesy of Astrid Montuclard.

How did you find the Metta Center for Nonviolence, and what inspires you about our work?

I heard about the Metta Center through East Point Peace Academy in Spring 2018. Kazu Haga, its founder, advertised the Center’s 6-month online course to certified Kingian nonviolent conflict resolution students, and I jumped on the opportunity to learn more about nonviolence. I found the content of both Metta’s 6-month course and website striking with clarity, pragmatism, hopefulness, and vision, which are four qualities that I look for in my work.


Happiness From Another Angle

Silhouette of happy people jumping on a beach.

In order to be happy, we need to feel safe. When it comes to practicing and advocating for nonviolence, an important question to ask is: How do we find peace and happiness?

Every day, we’re flooded by messages—in advertising, in the corporate mass media—telling us who we supposedly are and what supposedly makes us feel safe and happy. We all know that we can’t buy happiness, yet these messages constantly try to get us to believe that consumer “lifestyles” are one and the same as happiness. They also push the idea that security comes only through punishing crime. These negative messages of humankind are pretty uninspiring, so let’s bust through these phony stories with a couple of facts:


The Purpose of Education

Ever older I grow, learning along the way. ~ Solon (Greek lawgiver)

As one who left the teaching profession after nearly half a century, suffering from a slow shock at what it had become, I appreciated these words of another departing teacher: “I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. … For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, ‘Words Matter and ‘Ideas Matter.’ While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.”


New Story Media Savvy: 5 Practical Steps

“Windstorm, 2015!” 

The deep voice boomed from my mother’s T.V. accompanied by a musical score that could have been part of a Star Wars film.  I felt my heart rate increase just a bit even as I rolled my eyes and laughed. 

Yes, there was a storm headed towards Seattle during my visit, and yes, there were precautions to take.  But as I listened to the news anchor talk about all of the possible calamities that could befall us, I remembered all too clearly why I had long ago stopped watching mainstream TV news.  The report on the storm, and stories following did not offer me helpful solutions to these frightening possibilities or provide an even-handed outlook in the face of the unknown. Instead, it increased my anxiety and fear, even though I was already listening with a critical ear.   

This persistent elevation of anxiety, anger, and fear is at the heart of the Old Story paradigm, which accompanied industrialization, and which paints the human family as material entities, searching for fulfillment by consuming increasingly scarce resources, and doomed by our very nature to competition and violence.  

Mainstream media keeps this story deeply entrenched in our psyches by continuously forwarding stories that emphasize violence, greed, danger, and separation while ignoring the countless stories that forward a far more encouraging view of the human being that is encompassed in the New Story.

This New Story is underscored by ongoing breakthroughs in physics and neuroscience, and it a story of belonging and interconnectedness. As the New Story continues to emerge, we see that we are wired as a species to cooperate with one another, and that our deepest longings are not for material goods, but for authentic and trusting connection with one another. In fact, we often take great risks and face danger to help each other.  Yet these realities are not often reflected in the stories we see and hear day to day.  

If you find yourself yearning to read, see, and hear more stories that bring the New Story forward while also staying current with world events, Metta can help!

We are continually at work on this issue, both creating the media we want to see in the world through our radio programs, blog posts, and our published books, and through providing resources for news print, radio, and social media, that forward nonviolence and uplift the image of the human being. 

We are happy to report that these resources are increasing! You can find our current list of resources on our site. We continue to update it regularly. 

We can also offer 5 Practical Steps for New Story Media Savvy :

      1. Explore our Recommended News Media/Analysis page in depth, and check out the organizations recommended.  Some organizations will allow you to subscribe to an email list so that the news comes to you.

      2.Train yourself to become literate regarding Old Story/New Story Media nuances.  We have some great tips at the bottom of the  Recommended News Media/Analysis page.  

     3. Upgrade your social media feed!  You can choose to “follow” Metta Center, and other nonviolence organizations on Facebook, ensuring that our posts will show up in your feed.  You can also join Facebook groups we have created: Nonviolence Report Facebook Group, Science of Nonviolence Facebook Group, Peacemaker Family Facebook Group.

      4. Tune in to the Nonviolence Radio every other Friday at 9am, and the Nonviolence Report every other Monday at 10am.  We post the episodes on our Facebook page so you can listen at your convenience.  You can also subscribe to Nonviolent Radio through iTunes.

      5. Be discerning about any mainstream media that you do interact with, with an eye towards more balanced reporting.  A few examples: Guardian UK,  Al Jazeera,  Christian Science Monitor/Monitor Daily (online), but always pay attention to the image of the human being assumed in the articles. (More about this in Michael Nagler’s Search for a Nonviolent Future.)

This blog is part of a series on Frequently Asked Questions about principled nonviolence and the work of the Metta Center for Nonviolence.

Using Circles for Restorative Practices

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

These slide presentations are a resource to make the implementation of Restorative Practices simple and easy. These free downloadable slides are designed especially for K-12 teachers and students who want to bring Restorative Practices into their classrooms and communities. They can, therefore, provide a deeper understanding of how Restorative Practices work, and how they can be an effective peacebuilding tool in educational settings.

Restorative Circles and How They Work

Circles for Beginners

Guidelines and Agreements (Not Rules)

Circle Questions

Researched and Compiled by Lyndsey Burcina, Metta Intern 2019

On the EL Train, Chicago

watercolor by A. Celander, 2015

Greetings Metta friends!

I just wanted to share a “nonviolent moment” from my hometown of Chicago yesterday.

Nonviolence ideas inspired by Metta have helped me peacefully stop 3 physical fights in public places of Chicago in recent years. Yet this latest incident was especially uplifting. Though verbal rather than physical, it had a great moment of reconciliation.  

It occurred on the Green Line EL train in Chicago. A young woman and young man started verbally abusing each other in a train car. She accused him of eyeing her, and he returned insults. I was nearby, ready to interpose if things got physical. They continued verbal abuse for 15 minutes, calling each other “ugly,” “stupid,” “racist,” and threatening physical harm. They took pictures of each other while continuing insults. Passengers said nothing, shook their heads, or chuckled to each other. I was unsure what to say, so as not to escalate things.  

An older woman entered the train car, and asked the young woman to quiet down. The young woman said it was the young man’s problem. The older woman said, “You’re worse.”  

Finally the young woman prepared to exit. I told her, “I hope you have a better day.” She said in agitation, “I will have a good day. I always have a good day.” We made eye contact. I said quietly, “Respect comes from within. No matter what others do.” She was quiet.  

I went and sat by the young man. I said quietly, “Respect for you too. I don’t know, she felt disrespected.” (He and I had exchanged greetings before boarding the train.) He was quiet.  

Incredibly, the young man then said to the young woman, “Look, I’ll be a bigger man and apologize to you. I apologize for speaking that way.” She completely changed demeanor, and said, “You’re good, you’re good.” The young man held out his hand, and she shook his hand. She repeated “You’re good,” and exited the train car.  

Anyway, just wanted to share that! Thanks for your guidance on our search for a nonviolent future. 🙂

Charles, Chicago