Nonviolent living day by day
I would have been sixteen or seventeen at the time. I don’t remember the content of the conversation now, but we got round to considering the teaching attributed to Jesus, “…love your neighbours at yourselves.” The priest said to me that this was exactly the problem, that we loved our neighbours as little as we loved ourselves. This remark has stayed with me ever since. Desmond Tutu echoes the same sentiment in the Book of Joy, where in he asks, “…If you don’t have genuine love and kindness toward yourself, how can you extend these to others?” Nonviolent living begins with living nonviolent lives with ourselves. One of the key principles that has guided our Pace e Bene work in nonviolent leadership is that “Our inner work shapes our outer lives.” We can add to that, “what I do not engage within, I project onto others.”
The desire to live nonviolent lives day by day, then, begins with the challenge to engage ourselves as honestly as we are able, and to cultivate a self love, self care and self compassion that we are then able to extend to others.
It may seem obvious to say, but it is true, that the challenge of nonviolent living begins with acknowledging that we have the capacity to be violent people. We start by acknowledging, accepting, listening to and learning from the violent impulses that arise within our souls, and then taking whatever steps are necessary to choose the nonviolent path. This involves embracing our complexity, including that mysterious part of us that Carl Jung identifies as the shadow, the troublesome “Other” within.
We realise in this daily soul work that much of what rises up as violence from within us is our own unfinished business with the wounds of life, the perceived threats to our sense of security, belonging and even our to our survival. Daily nonviolent living requires us to cultivate a sense of radical inclusivity, whereby we make room in our self-understanding for all the neglected and repressed parts of who we are in our fullness. Everyone’s in, nobody’s out. The challenge is to include, and to be humbled by, the truth of who we are in our fullness. The term “part of me” becomes a useful tool in talking about ourselves in our complexity. We also learn that parts of who we are remain within us and we make choices, consciously and intentionally, as to how to present ourselves to the world.
Daily nonviolent living is a great challenge and requires discipline and courage, first to live compassionately with ourselves, and then to extend that same compassion to others in whatever ways are appropriate. It is an ongoing challenge, and it results in our developing a strong bedrock of love, care and compassion, that we can offer those around us and to the larger human family.
If you wish to pursue these brief thoughts with me, place feel welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Trippe, Dianella, WA