We see a lot of violence on the news: in print media, on TV, online, and on social media.
We might be desensitized to violence since we’ve been viewing it all our lives. But our kids might and should be disturbed by it.
It’s too often we see news about a school shooting.
It’s too frequently we hear about immigrants being incarcerated.
The jails are flooded with minor infractions.
It’s too much to hear about the many women and children assaulted.
Workers being exploited for too little pay.
Civil rights being violated.
I think the really significant part of it for us, for the western world, is we have a lot to gain from the Tibetans – there are certain lessons that are within Tibetan culture. I mean understandings of compassion and of nonviolence that are things that we really lack in our society.~Adam Yauch
We have to expand our learning and our teaching about nonviolence and human rights. It’s a huge problem when nothing improves or changes. Statistics show that many people don’t view rape as assault or crime. That’s scary.
We have to talk to our kids about consent and violence and guns.
Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone.Romans 12:17-18
What do we teach our children about violence, protest, and injustice?
Do we have a voice, power, desire to make a difference?
It’s important that we teach our kids nonviolence in a fallen world.
We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.~Alice Walker
I love the movies and books about aliens or supernatural forces wanting to communicate peace to us, the lame and broken humans.
God blesses those people who make peace.Matthew 5:9
Sometimes, it takes fiction to make us realize how much we’re hurting each other.
It’s never us/them, either/or, other, or any other duality thinking. We’re all in this together.
It can be both/and.
Christian nonviolence must be embodied in a community that is an alternative to the world’s violence.~Stanley Hauerwas
Nonviolence starts with our parenting and teaching styles.
Don’t tell me to “do my research” or that I’m a victim because I am anti-gun.
My eldest daughter earned her sharpshooter award in Civil Air Patrol.
My husband earned expert in his weapons qualification with the Air Force.
I have gone to multiple gun ranges indoor and outdoor and used different weapons.
I know what it feels like. I know the thrill and exhilaration and power that rushes through the body as the gun fires off rounds at a paper target.
That scares me. I never want to own a weapon with that kind of power. I never want to point a weapon at another human.
We stress cooperation, kindness, patience, love, and compromise in our home.
We teach respect and dignity for everyone.
Love your enemies, and be good to everyone who hates you. Ask God to bless anyone who curses you, and pray for everyone who is cruel to you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, don’t stop that person from slapping you on the other cheek. If someone wants to take your coat, don’t try to keep back your shirt. Give to everyone who asks and don’t ask people to return what they have taken from you. Treat others just as you want to be treated.Luke 6: 27-31
What is nonviolence?
When the hyphen is not used, it often signifies the mere absence of physical violence, or “strategic nonviolence” in contrast to what is called “principled nonviolence”— the presence of concern for the opponent as person.
“Nonviolence” is almost a translation of the Sanskrit term ahimsa. The actual translation of ahimsa would be more like “the power that comes into effect when the desire to harm is eliminated.”
Pacifism: the belief that any violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstances, and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means.
People use the term “nonviolence” in three different ways:
- The mere absence of physical violence. In this usage, even passively allowing oneself to be abused can be called “non-violence,” while Gandhi actually considered it a form of violence! This leads to a lot of confusion (“nonviolence didn’t work against Hitler”).
- The avoidance of recourse to physical violence as a strategy, without reference to a philosophical or spiritual foundation for that avoidance. Often this nonviolence will then 3 be conditional (“If it doesn’t work we can go back to violence.”) The Concise OED is referring to passivity or strategic nonviolence when it defines “nonviolent” as “not using violence.”
- A positive desire for the well-being of others, even — or especially — when opposing their actions and policies. Just as peace is more than the absence of war, principled nonviolence is more than the refusal to use physical violence. Indeed it has much more to do with a vision of what one will do, namely “cooperate with good” and bring creative forces into play. It is this principled nonviolence that was lived and used by such role models as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi, and many others. Gandhi felt that there is no situation in which, when used well, it would not help to resolve the situation at hand and in the process build a better world. ~Metta Center
I just think that if one is going to preach nonviolence and one is going to advocate for nonviolence, one’s standard should be consistent.~ Ta-Nehisi Coates
Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote that the philosophy and practice of nonviolence has six basic elements.
Principle One: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people
- It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
- It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
- It is always persuading the opponent of the righteousness of your cause.
- It is only passive in its non-aggression toward its enemy.
Principle Two: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding
- The end of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
- The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of The Beloved Community.
Principle Three: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people
- Nonviolence recognizes that evil doers are also victims and are not evil people.
- The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil not people.
Principle Four: Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform
- Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation.
- Nonviolence accepts violence if necessary, but will never inflict it.
- Nonviolence willingly accepts the consequences of its act.
- Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous education and transforming possibilities.
- Suffering has the power to convert the enemy when reason fails.
Principle Five: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate
- Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body.
- Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.
- Nonviolent love gives willingly knowing that the return might be hostility.
- Nonviolent love is active, not passive.
- Nonviolent love is unending in its ability to forgive in order to restore community.
- Nonviolent love does not sink to the level of the hater.
- Love for the enemy is how we demonstrate love for ourselves.
- Love restores community and resists injustice.
- Nonviolence recognizes the fact that all life is interrelated.
Principle Six: Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice
- The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win
- Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.
Try to live at peace with everyone! Live a clean life. If you don’t, you will never see the Lord. Make sure that no one misses out on God’s wonderful kindness.Hebrews 12:14-15
Nonviolence is pretty ballsy, pretty advanced weaponry.~Ava DuVernay
We use lots of books and videos, followed by discussion. I love the questions and conversations sparked by great authors and movies.
We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.~Mahatma Gandhi
If you are a Christian and own guns or believe that Christians should and can own guns and use them against humans, how do you reconcile that? How do you explain this decision to your young children?
“You cannot be both a Christian and participate in a gun culture,” according to James E. Atwood, pastor emeritus of the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Va., and author of America and Its Guns: A Theological Exposé.
Nonviolence Unit Study
- Sophie Scholl
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Nelson Mandela
- Mother Teresa
- Walter Wink
- Tank Man (Tiananmen Square Massacre)
- Joan Baez
- Helen Prejean
- Shane Claiborne
- A great list of pacifists
- Nuclear weapons
- Death penalty/capital punishment
- Gun control
- Teaching Peace (pdf download)
- A Field Guide to Christian Nonviolence (article)
- I’d Rather Teach Peace by Colman McCarthy
- Among the Righteous (also a PBS film)
- Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto
- We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler
- The Butterfly by Patricia Polacco
- The Story of Ferdinand
- Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
- The Book Thief
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
- Dead Man Walking
- Between Torture and Resistance
- The Scandal of Redemption
- Love in the Void
- The Reckless Way of Love
- A Time to Break Silence: The Essential Works of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence
- Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way
- Pema Chödrön
- Thich Nhat Hanh
- Richard Rohr
- Barbara Brown Taylor
- The Banality of Good and Evil
- Say What You Mean
- Nonviolent Communication
- Living Nonviolent Communication
- Speak Peace in a World of Conflict
- The Heart of Social Change
- Teaching Children Compassionately
- Raising Children Compassionately
- Life-Enriching Communication
- The Abyss
- Schindler’s List
- Miracle at Midnight
- The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler
- The Book Thief
- Au Revoir Les Enfants
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
- Dead Man Walking
- Viva la Causa
- Cesar Chavez
- The Harvest
- Weapons of the Spirit: The Astonishing Story of a Unique Conspiracy of Goodness
- Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt
- Some Mother’s Son
- Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
- The Singing Revolution
- Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freesom
- Awake: A Dream of Standing Rock
Activities and Resources
- 64 Ways to Practice Nonviolence
- 100 Days of Nonviolence
- Challenge Day
- Lutheran Peace Fellowship
- Neighborhood Compassion Toolkit
- Peace Programs
It’s important to understand history and the effects of violence.
If we don’t know or understand history, how can we make changes?
Is it possible for nonviolent direct action to transform a community?
Try to get along and live peacefully with each other.2 Corinthians 13:11
It’s important to teach kids in an age-appropriate way about human dignity, immigration, death penalty laws, incarceration laws and regulations, sexual assault, peaceful protest, injustice, racism, sexism, childism, ageism, discrimination.
Raise kids to be world changers.
We all are connected. I am mentally exhausted from all the death and destruction.
I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened. ~Obi Wan Kenobi
“Put away your [gun],” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the [gun].”Matthew 26:52
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