One of our early posts, explaining our approach. The message is still right on, while our approach to moving that message has shifted (follow our newer blog posts).
Originally posted OCTOBER 26, 2010
When I first started studying Nonviolence many years ago, I found that there were two ways of putting Nonviolence into action:
1. Nonviolence as a way of life. This is sometimes called “principled Nonviolence” — working to align one’s life with principles of Nonviolence like collaboration, kindness, and compassion
2. Nonviolence as a strategy. This is sometimes called “strategic Nonviolence” and includes actions like civil disobedience, etc. When using Nonviolence as a strategy, you may or may not feel “Nonviolent” in your heart, and you may or may not live Nonviolence in your everyday life. But still you understand that to advance a particular cause, Nonviolence makes strategic sense.
Not only are there two distinct ways of putting Nonviolence into action, the people who study and promote Nonviolence tend to divide themselves into one strategy over the other. There are of course notable exceptions like Mohandas Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King, Jr. who tried to combine the two. And, in fact, Gandhi saw it as a great failure of his to focus on Nonviolence as a tactic rather than as a way of life1 — because what he really hoped for were the longer-lasting, more far-reaching effects of Nonviolence as a way of life rather than the short-lived shifts in power.
But, as far as I’ve been able to find, no one leader or movement has successfully combined the two methods of Nonviolence for the masses… until now. Enter Nonviolence United.
When studying to help establish Nonviolence United, I was impressed by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s approach to problems. He tended to look at the elements of different potential solutions to a problem. Then, he would not simply choose one solution which he thought was superior to the other; rather, he tended to “cherry pick” the best elements from two conflicting solutions. He would put pieces together to create a solution more powerful than either of the solutions would have been on their own. Sometimes evaluating conflicting solutions would lead to an even better solution. This constant upward spiral process of improvement is called “the dialectic” for those who want to delve more deeply.
Excited by this “dialectic” approach, it dawned on me that, yes, Nonviolence can be approached as a way of life… and, yes, Nonviolence can be approached as a strategy. But these are not separate solutions nor are either of these the best solution. In order to create long-lasting, far-reaching, positive social change,Nonviolence as a way of life IS the strategy.
Marrying the two strategies, we’ve create an even more powerful strategy – one that can build a positive social movement the likes of which the world has never seen… and desperately needs.
Living A Life Connected: How to live Nonviolence as a way of life.
This became the foundational tenet of Nonviolence United: Encouraging individuals (the living building blocks of society, after all) to LIVE Nonviolence as a real and effective STRATEGY for social change. Live “A Life Connected.”
Traditional tactics of “strategic” Nonviolence have been studied and systematically marginalized by those who control by force, disconnection, and violence:
Our marches and speeches are ignored and laughed off the world stage by the corporate-owned media. Our letters are ignored and our emails are deleted. We are even forced into “free speech zones” where we can be more easily ignored and controlled.
But Nonviolence isn’t just holding up signs in protest on weekends and then going back to life as usual. In order for Nonviolence to work, it must have strategy, it must have planning, and it must play a real and effective role in replacing the unjust system.
This isn’t about working harder; it’s about living smarter.
Nonviolence United is calling on each of us to live “A Life Connected.” This is a form of Nonviolence that is built on strategy and has a direct effect regardless of an opponent’s (or a system’s) conscience or their willingness to change. These connected choices are our values IN ACTION.
We actively are building the future. Every day with every choice we are having an impact on the world around us and upon the future. The question isn’t can we make a difference; the question is what kind of difference do we want to make… what kind of future do we want to build?
We can choose to live connected and consciously build a future based on our values. OR we can continue to live disconnected and build an unthinking, unconscious future – a future that goes against our own values, a future of violence, pollution, systems of cruelty, war, profit over compassion – a future we’ll continue to fight against. If this sounds familiar, it is because this is the unthinking present/future we’ve been building through our unthinking choices of the past. To not choose is to choose – if we don’t live Nonviolence as a way of life, we’ll build a violent, disconnected future.
Nonviolence United is breaking the dominance paradigm by reconnecting the disconnected. We’re starting with the building blocks of our social existence — our everyday choices. And, on an even more fundamental level, to help ensure that we make connected choices, we are starting by awakening people of their own values.
Most people want clean air and clean water; they want to be kind to other people; they want to be kind to animals. Most of us care about the future and want to do our best to not cause pain and suffering to others yet to come. But, we’ve forgotten that our simple everyday choices have a profound affect on others. We’ve forgotten that we are all interconnected. We’ve forgotten that each of us OWNS THE POWER to do the right thing. By awakening and remembering this, by re-owning our own personal power and responsibility, by recognizing that what we do matters, that WE MATTER – we can, each of us, build a better lives for ourselves… and a better world for everyone.
Please remember, the state of the world isn’t something being done TO; it is being done BY us. We will build a world reflective of our shared values of kindness, justice, and compassion ONLY when we make choices aligned with those values.
The formula is pretty simple:
To live “A Life Connected”…
1. Become re-aware of your values.
2. Become aware of how your choices impact other people, the planet, and animals.
3. Align your choices to your values.
Consume consciously. Live “A Life Connected”. When we do, we are part of a conscious and creative future. And, when we do, we actively dismantle and repair and unconscious disconnected past.
Live your values, change the world. It’s that simple.
About NU's Blog.
Just trying to make the world a better, more compassionate place. I hope you find these ideas helpful. Please be in touch and feel free to ask questions. I'll do my best to help however I can.