Nonviolence United explains Nonviolence as connection; whereas violence is disconnection. This is fundamental to what is taught by the heroes of Nonviolence.
Mohandas Gandhi taught a continual search for the truth – to connect while eliminating disconnection (lies, propaganda, personal disconnection of choices and their effects).
Cesar Chavez taught us that when we buy consciously and live our lives consistently with our values we can build a fair society – connection of our choices and their effects can build a society reflective of those values; disconnection builds a schizophrenic society that doesn’t reflect, respect or uphold our values.
Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us of “interbeing”– that everyone and everything is connected; how even a piece of paper holds the soil, the tree, the sky, the clouds and the rain that gave birth to it.
And Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us of how the disconnection from how we waste our resources on hate, militarism and materialism rather than on uplifting humanity is limiting our true potential.
You’ll also hear from the masters of Nonviolence their call for love. As Thich Nhat Hanh puts it, “Love is the essence (the core, the heart) of Nonviolence.” But what is love? How can we love our enemies when they cause us so much pain?
Love in the tradition of Nonviolence doesn’t mean acceptance of an opponent. It doesn’t even mean you have to like your opponent. Love means connecting to the potential of your opponent. Love means seeing yourself in your opponent.
We each may remember a time when we were not who we are now. If you sat down and had a conversation with your past self about issues now important to you, you might not even like that person. If that person was in front of you today, you might even see that person as an opponent. But what if you hate or dismiss or even hurt that person? Will that person have the opportunity to reach their potential? How might you help? Think of how much more powerful it would be to recognize the potential for good in that opponent, to foster their potential and to offer a hand in their reaching that potential. That is love.
We hope you’ll take the time to read Martin Luther King’s sermon on peace. Here is an excerpt:
“… the Greek language has another word for love, and that is the word “agape.” Agape is more than romantic love, it is more than friendship. Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men. Agape is an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. Theologians would say that it is the love of God operating in the human heart.
When you rise to love on this level, you love all men not because you like them, not because their ways appeal to you, but you love them because God loves them. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Love your enemies.” And I’m happy that he didn’t say, “Like your enemies,” because there are some people that I find it pretty difficult to like. Liking is an affectionate emotion, and I can’t like anybody who would bomb my home. I can’t like anybody who would exploit me. I can’t like anybody who would trample over me with injustices. I can’t like them. I can’t like anybody who threatens to kill me day in and day out. But Jesus reminds us that love is greater than liking.
Love is understanding, creative, redemptive good will toward all men. And I think this is where we are, as a people, in our struggle for racial justice. We can’t ever give up. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for first-class citizenship. We must never let up in our determination to remove every vestige of segregation and discrimination from our nation, but we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege to love.
I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and I’ve seen hate on the faces of too many sheriffs, too many white citizens’ councilors, and too many Klansmen of the South to want to hate, myself; and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country, and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, and we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process… and our victory will be a double victory.”
Read the rest of Dr. King’s sermon here.