Metta’s Opinion

Using Circles for Restorative Practices

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

These slide presentations are a resource to make the implementation of restorative practices in classrooms and school communities simple and easy to grasp. It is a resource built for students and teachers to study restorative practices, types of circles, and how to use them. Using this resource can provide a deeper understanding of the circle practices, a basic sequence in which to practice communication, and inspiration to form your own circles.

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


Nonviolence News

Rivera Sun, in service of Nonviolence Now, is collecting and emailing a list of stories for Nonviolence News. If you’d like to join her email list, please connect with her directly! Here’s the most recent from March 6, 2019:

These stories reflect nonviolent action and nonviolent practices, including constructive programs, alternative institutions, and policies rooted in structural/systemic nonviolence as opposed to violence.

In a Step Forward for Housing Justice, Oregon Becomes First State With Mandatory Rent Control https://ktla.com/2019/02/21/oregon-to-become-1st-state-with-mandatory-rent-controls/

United Methodist Church creates human timeline designed to highlight the history of bigotry in their denomination.
https://www.facebook.com/LYNCoalition/posts/1527755470694715

Hundreds of Young Protesters Confront Sen. Mitch McConnell over Green New Deal
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/25/mitch-mcconnell-protest-young-climate-activists-green-new-deal

Actor Billy Porter Expands Gender Boundaries with Velvet Tuxedo Gown at 2019 Oscars “I wanted to create a space where we can have a dialogue about the masculine and the feminine and everything in between,” the actor explained to E! News after the Oscars. “I want people to understand that you don’t have to understand or even agree with other people’s authenticity or truths, but we must all respect each other,” Porter told the Associated Press. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/celebrity/red-carpet-dresses/a26499970/billy-porter-oscars-2019-tuxedo-gown/

Costa Rica Unveils Plan To Go 100% Renewable By 2050
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/25/costa-rica-plan-decarbonize-2050-climate-change-fight

After historic breakthrough, the right to refuse military service is now recognized in South Korea … though the right to refuse alternative service is just beginning.
https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/movement-conscientious-objection-south-korea-faces-challenges/

Hundreds of Educators Hold Teach-In To Protest Immigrant Family Separation and Detention
https://portside.org/2019-02-20/hundreds-educators-hold-teach-protest-detention-immigrant-children

Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 Films On Location in DC … and the media photos make a protest that speaks on its own. https://www.washingtonian.com/2019/02/15/the-handmaids-tale-dc-filming-on-national-mall-photos-are-kinda-intense/

Lake Erie Wins Historic Rights of Nature Vote In Toledo, OH
https://celdf.org/2019/02/rights-of-lake-erie-recognized-in-historic-vote/

Journalist Chris Hedges writes about Extinction Rebellion and states: “We must, in wave after wave, carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to shut down the capitals of the major industrial countries”. https://popularresistance.org/extinction-rebellion/

Okinawan Super-Majority Votes Against US Military Base; PM Abe Moves Ahead Anyway https://popularresistance.org/okinawan-people-vote-by-72-to-oppose-us-military-base-but-abe-moves-ahead-anyway/

Half a Billion Fewer Animals Were Killed Per Year Since 2007 – because fewer people are eating meat.
https://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/11/27/half-a-billion-fewer-animals-were-killed-since-2007-because-people-are-eating-less-meat/

In famous festival in Italy, a giant floating whale swallows a plastic heap to raise awareness about plastic pollution in oceans. https://www.facebook.com/mahaucruzoficial/videos/415007715910081/

DC Prankster Activists Convert Anger Into Creative Action and Street Theater
https://apnews.com/184001cc014446188ea74b92d847748b

Stop Urban Shield Coalition Propels Alameda County to Consider Shift from SWAT Teams and Militarized Policing to Helping the Public Prepare for Natural Disasters
https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/02/26/alameda-county-leaders-support-new-direction-for-urban-shield/

Right To Repair Movement Gives Manufacturers Cold Sweats … and Fix-It Power To Consumers: “European Union member states are this week voting on dishwasher efficiency and repair. If that sounds as dull as, well, dishwater, then you need to consider the last time your own dishwasher broke. With the right rules in place, it would be a cheap and easy fix. However, you’re not allowed to fiddle with the machine because it would invalidate the warranty. So, instead, you go and buy a new model and throw the old one on the dump.” http://fortune.com/2019/01/09/right-to-repair-manufacturers/

Oakland, CA Has a Self-Governing, City-Sanctioned Homeless Camp
https://invisiblepeople.tv/city-sanctioned-homeless-camp/

Street Artists Makes International Mural as a picnic blanket over the US-Mexico Border, Painted As a Face With Eyes On Each Side. https://mymodernmet.com/jr-street-art-us-mexico-border/

Bavarians Force Legislators To Change Farm Laws to Protect Bees with the most successful petition in the state’s history. “The organisations and voters carrying the successful campaign in Bavaria weren’t just a loud minority of environmentalists. They were a broad and diverse coalition, of progressives and conservatives, who want to preserve our precious ecosystems in the face of damaging industrial farming practices.”
https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-02-22/bees-brought-bavarians-together-and-they-have-a-lesson-for-us-all/

8,000 Grocery Store Workers in New England Stop & Shop Chain Authorize Strike: On February 24, a union representing more than 8,000 Massachusetts workers at the supermarket chain Stop & Shop overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike. https://popularresistance.org/why-workers-at-the-biggest-grocery-chain-in-new-england-just-authorized-a-strike/

Statue of Liberty Protester To Be Sentenced for Climbing Statue To Oppose Immigrant Family Separation https://popularresistance.org/patricia-okoumou-to-be-sentenced-on-march-19-2019-for-statue-of-liberty-protest/

Pennsylvania Workers Wage Biggest Manufacturing Strike in Trump Administration Era
https://popularresistance.org/pennsylvania-workers-wage-biggest-us-manufacturing-strike-in-trump-era/

Oakland Teachers Strike Reaches Tentative Deal https://popularresistance.org/oakland-teachers-strike-ends-with-tentative-deal-for-raise/

Two Hunger Striking Detainees Deported by ICE https://popularresistance.org/ice-deports-two-hunger-strikers-detained-in-el-paso/

Planned Protests For Net Neutrality Force Republican To Cancel Fundraiser with Telecom Giants https://popularresistance.org/net-neutrality-advocates-force-republican-to-cancel-fundraiser-with-telecoms/

What’s Behind Germany’s Renewable Energy Transition? Organized Nonviolent Action. In Germany, a powerful people’s movement takes over coal mines, sits in trees and engages in mass disruption and civic disobedience in order to exert pressure on the system. https://popularresistance.org/the-rigors-of-organizing-on-the-road-with-the-german-climate-resistance/

EU Calls for Peaceful – Not Militarized – Responses to Venezuela
The European Union is urging the world to abandon a “militarized intervention” into Venezuela, calling for dialogue to develop a “peaceful, political, and democratic” solution to the nation’s domestic political differences. https://popularresistance.org/venezuela-eu-spurns-violent-intervention-for-peaceful-solution/

A Latinx Immigrant Worker Co-op Franchise Offers Constructive Program Model To “Scale Up” Social Justice https://popularresistance.org/scaling-social-justice-a-latinx-immigrant-worker-co-op-franchise-model/

Farsi Resource Videos

مرکز صلح مِتا (Metta Center for Nonviolence) با مدیریت پروفسور مایکل ناگلر فعالیت خود را در سال 1982 در امریکا آغاز کرده است. این مرکز همواره از پیشگامان عرصه صلح در برگزاری نشست ها، کارگاهها و دوره های مرتبط با عدم خشونت، صلح درون و تغییرات اجتماعی و فرهنگی بوده است. از جمله فعالیت های سازنده مرکز متا میتوان به تهیه انیمیشن های بسیار جذاب در زمینه عدم خشونت همراه با زیرنویس فارسی برای علاقمندان به صلح در سراسر دنیا اشاره کرد که توسط شبکه های اجتماعی در دسترس همگان قرار گرفته است. این انیمیشن های کوتاه شامل موضوعاتی چون تروریسم، عدالت، امنیت، اقتصاد و ارتباط هریک از این موضوعات با مفهوم عدم خشونت هستند. در حقیقت این فیلمها به زبانی ساده بدنبال آگاه سازی افراد نسبت به قدرت درونی خویش و بکارگیری مفهوم عدم خشونت در زندگی روزمره  میباشد.

(برای مشاهده فیلم ها بر روی این قسمت کلیک کنید:)

Science + Nonviolence: A Seminar

Well, not quite that…

We are designing a seminar on a topic that has been in my mind ever since I wrote my first book on nonviolence (1982!): science and nonviolence. 

As the late Willis Harman said,

“Science is the knowledge-validating system of our civilization,”

and that remains true even though faith in science – and civilization! – has been steadily eroded in modern culture. 

This seminar, an introduction for those not familiar with principled nonviolence and a master class for those who are, will be built on two themes: in what sense is nonviolence itself a science, as Gandhi insisted it was throughout his career, and how do the incredible discoveries of ‘new science,’ beginning with the quantum breakthroughs of the last century, help us to understand and communicate to others the nature of nonviolence and its startling effectiveness. 

            We welcome your input as we continue to develop an inspiring and highly useful offering from these ideas.

How Did We Get Here From There?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, whose 90th birthday would have been around now, wrote Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? in 1967, after some hard-won successes in the struggle for the rights of Black Americans.  It is sobering to consider how far from community and close to chaos we have come. But it might be useful to understand just how it’s happened.

I think a clue comes from a book that appeared nine years after King’s famous one: Christopher Lasch’s Culture of Narcissism.  The very word, ‘narcissism,’ makes us think immediately of the 45th President now in the White House.  Of the many aspersions cast on him, the one that could tell us something about how we have allowed our country to slip down to this deplorable state is, to quote a recent version, “his insatiable ego.”  Now, people who have to feed their egos are usually suffering from low self-esteem, and that may be useful in dealing with him, possibly even helping him if one were in a position to do that – but what we’re after here is an explanation how he became President.  More pertinent still, why does he still have approval ratings in double digits which, while historically low, are still enough to cry out for explanation. This, I think, is what Lasch offered.

People make heroes out of those who represent most conspicuously the values of their culture.  This was true of earlier Presidents whose values have disappeared into the quaintness of past history: honesty, competence; in the case of ‘probity’ the very word has dropped out of common vocabulary.  And it’s true today. How, then, has egotism, self-centeredness usurped their place in the imagination of enough people to secure a big enough minority that election fraud (which we do in about half a dozen ways, almost all on the Republican side) can push him over the edge of victory?

On the way into town I pass two billboards about a hundred yards apart.  One says MAY THE BEST DREAM WIN. That’s an advertisement for the scratchies, and it has two equally deleterious messages: one, that life is a competition, and two that our ‘dream’ – the measure of our aspirations – is getting money, preferably without working.  Personally, I don’t expose myself to commercial mass media if I can help it; but like all of us, I can’t. According to some recent studies, we in urban America are being exposed to around 5,000 commercial messages a day. So I’ve seen a few fewer adverts in my long life, but that’s still a lot.  And exactly once in my life – once, years ago – I saw an advertisement for volunteerism; the message, I still remember, was Ich helfe gern, ‘I like to help.’  I was, needless to say, not here, but on a train going from Holland to Germany.

The second billboard says, THRIVE YOUR WAY.  Again, this may seem perfectly harmless at first sight; but with some practice reading subtexts (as it happens I was a professor of comparative literature), ‘your way’ should set off an alarm.  It is not an isolated message. It echoes the refrain of everything from iPhones to YouTube: the incessant refrain of self-centeredness which is the seductive message of virtually all advertising.  Self-centeredness is a relatively innocuous form of egotism, perhaps – but a form of it nonetheless. And it’s so endlessly repeated that advertisers feel it has to be used even to advertise not a commercial product, but healthcare, which once upon a time was the preeminent selfless profession.

Oh, and before the ‘thrive’ message went up the same billboard hosted a real estate ad with the compelling slogan, Our Pain is Your Gain.  Ah, the added pleasure of knowing you’re hurting someone else.

These are only the (relatively) subtle messages of self-centeredness.  Think now of “entertainment” media, from video games on up. This fare ranges from extreme violence and pessimism – Real Ain’t Pretty, Unleash Truth (depicting a dehumanized, raging warrior), The Beast at the Center of the Universe. Enough said.  Where can you go today to escape the advertisement (literally or otherwise) of self: anger, fear, and greed, competition and violence.  Lasch was right: we have steadily, passively for most of us, created a culture of narcissism – of ego, not to put too fine a point on it – and in the land of egotism, he with the biggest ego is king.  I do not for a moment downplay the disaffection of rural, white, working-class people and the other factors so well brought to our attention by Arlie Hochschild and others. But the substrate of their discontent and ‘background count’ of our culture is self-centeredness, and that cannot lead anywhere resembling happiness.  Tragically, we see reflected in the President, writ large, the worst that we are carrying in ourselves. This is ultimately how we got here.

What, then, can we do now?  Two things. As the philosopher Epictetus said a millennium ago, warning about ‘entertainment’ even in his day, “take good care of your precious mind.”  Just avoid the degrading imagery of the mass media, which, yes, might mean just about all of it.  Trust me, you miss nothing.

Second, talk about this.  Draw attention to what’s being done to our precious consciousness.  That does not come naturally here in the West, or almost anywhere in this faltering age.  But when it does come, we discover that it was our real nature after all.

reflection:

Michael Nagler offers two suggestions of what we can do to transform our culture from violence to nonviolence. Offer your practical ideas and commitments below to expand on his thoughts.

Jonestown: Not Too Late to Learn

Michael Nagler asks us to learn the lessons of Jonestown by addressing our deeper needs of authentic spiritual community, and giving insight as to how to discern leadership therein.

 

A few years ago we had the pleasure of meeting the late, revered Narayan Desai, whose
father Mahadev had been Mahatma Gandhi’s personal secretary. When Narayan took
over after his father’s death, he told us, he had to tell Gandhi that while he fully
appreciated the importance of the work he didn’t feel he was growing in the process:
what to do? Gandhi’s response was, ‘you have answered your own question: if you
aren’t growing, you shouldn’t be here. Go out and find yourself.’

This came back to me when I started reading that forty years ago last week in British
Guyana some 900 Americans killed themselves – and their children – at the behest of an
egotistical, self-appointed ‘leader.’ I have long felt that as a people we missed a priceless
opportunity when that event happened, and we’re still missing it now. Forty years is too
long not to have learned the lesson of this tragedy; too long to repeat the errors that led up
to it – the errors that have in fact given us a right-wing, egocentric President today. A
wider contrast between leadership styles could not be imagined. But there’s a larger
question.

The coverage in the mainstream media focused on personal stories, which is all right as
far as it goes – it must ultimately be a personal story for every one of us. They give us
the answer to various questions we may have had about Jim Jones and his deluded
followers. But that is not the question we should be asking: how could a huge number of
Americans fail to see through the “charisma” of an egocentric, substance-and-person
abusing, self-serving individual who so devalued the life of others that he would order his
followers to death? We should be noting that there is a pattern to this event; for a really
stark example think of Adolf Hitler in his doomed bunker sending two cyanide pills and a
photo of his exalted self to all his generals. What does it mean?

We can get some insight from Mother (now saint) Teresa who plainly saw this, not writ
large in some shocking tragedy but in the quiet tragedy all around her: You in the West,
she said, have some of the “spiritually poorest of the poor.” We deny this kind of poverty
at our peril. If it’s not addressed, people will turn to all kinds of destructive behavior, and
often find themselves susceptible to the shallow appeal of a self-appointed ‘leader’ who
promises them some kind of meaning in their lives. David Brooks, writing recently on
the ubiquitous phenomenon of trauma, pointed out that Our society has tried to
medicalize trauma. We call it PTSD and regard it as an individual illness that can be
treated with medications. But it’s increasingly clear that trauma is a moral and spiritual
issue as much as a psychological or chemical one. Wherever there is trauma, there has
been betrayal, an abuse of authority, a moral injury. And he added, Medication can
rebalance chemicals in the brain, but it can’t heal the inner self.

To begin that healing we don’t need to take holy orders or go off to a cave in the
Himalayas: “You in the West,” Saint Teresa went on to clarify, “have millions of people
who suffer such terrible loneliness and emptiness. They feel unloved and unwanted.”
In our famed material progress we seem to have derailed our understanding of what we
are and what we need impelling us go on looking for fulfillment where it cannot be found
– in material possessions, physical experiences – and neglect it where it can – in human
relationships and our inner capacity for love and service.

Nor is it hard to see why. We in the industrialized world are exposed to thousands of
commercial messages a day (three to six thousand, according to recent studies), virtually
all of which relentlessly compromise our awareness of the value of life and community
by endless messages to ‘do it your way, seek your own satisfaction, buy this, eat that.’ In
the ‘entertainment’ media action heroes impress on us the false allure of violence. Yet all
this conditioning has not, cannot, deprive us of the capacity to choose: what we will
watch, how we will relate to those around us, which of our inner capacities to express, to
encourage in our children. It is only “When our lives touch those of different kingdoms,”
wrote brilliant scientist Lynn Margulis, that “we most feel what it means to be alive.” So
much the more when our lives really touch those of our fellow human beings.

Many of us, recognizing this disorientation and this poverty, have taken to spiritual
practice. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health,
the number of adults who meditated in the United States was 18 million back in 2012,
and climbing. For others of us, simply avoiding damaging media and forming a habit of
being more personal with everyone around us – especially even when it’s difficult! – can
go far to reduce our spiritual hunger, which, among other benefits, will inoculate
ourselves against the appeal of persons who lack compassion and judgment. It helps,
also, to rediscover the spiritual tradition that once flourished even here in the West.
Along the way we will find the other symptoms of spiritual poverty; mass shootings,
addiction, demoralization and suicides finally becoming rare. Oh, and in our social and
political life, the rise of real leadership.