January 2002

» The Theory and the Practice of Non-Violence - Editorial

» A Few Thoughts on September 11 - Houston Smith   

» Human Spirit and World Peace - Swami Prabuddhananda   

» Spiritual Practice for Personal and Community Peace - Heng Sure   

» A Page from the Diary of a Walking Pilgrim - Disciple Kuo Chen   

» Building a Harmonious Environment for Adolescent Learners - Gloria Cooper   

» Community Violence Solutions - Charles Clemmons  

» Education in Non-Violence - Kaliya Young 

The Theory and the Practice of Non-Violence

Kumar Mehta

Last October's AHIMSA conference was focused on the theme, Building Islands of Peace in a Violent World. This issue of Ahimsa Voices contains the transcripts of six presentations, three by those who have a deep knowledge of the theory how non-violence works and the other three by those who are engaged in the practice of non-violent solutions to problems created by violence.

The speakers in the first group seem to agree that there is an impulse for violence within human nature, but this can be controlled. According to Prof. Huston Smith, compassionate and non-violent response to an evil or violent act is the most skillful and appropriate way to respond. The concept of oneness of the human spirit, according to Swami Prabuddhananda provides a firm basis for compassion and love for even those who hurt us. Rev. Heng Sure narrates a beautiful story from his personal experience as a young boy to show that an act of violence originates from thoughts of violence, which can be controlled.

The second group of speakers described their experiences in providing a non-violent learning environment for the adoscent, health care for victims of violence and sexual abuse, and efforts for mass education in non-violence. In her highly provocative address, Gloria Cooper gives a failing grade to the American society which has made her job harder as a teacher striving to provide a non-violent learning environment in her school. Especially touching is her message to society on behalf of the adoscent students, "Too many of us are dying. We, the light of your light, are not the lost, violent generation. We are merely a reflection of you." Dr. Charles Clemmons describes the work of his volunteer team with several community projects that are helping to transform the victims of violence into non-violent individuals. Such projects can break the cycle of violence and serve as a catalysis for culture of non- violence. Kaliya Young's talk is an eye-opener to many of us who do not know about the large organizations that are actively engaged in spreading the gospel of non-violence in the American society.***

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A Few Thoughts on September 11th

Houston Smith

You will note that my name is not on the program. When the date was first announced it turned out to be an impossible one for me, but, in the light of the events of September 11, I found I could not possibly let this day go by without at least putting in a brief appearance. AHIMSA is one of the organizations that holds high the banner and the hope for non- violence which we desperately need at this time. I think we are all still stunned to the point where it is very difficult to speak to this issue. As I thought about what I would say I found my thoughts going back to my life-long teachers, wondering what they would say in the present circumstances. The names that came to mind were Mahatma Gandhi (the only one I did not meet personally), His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela. I think what they would say is that a strong and just response to evil is appropriate. But then they would move immediately to the Buddhist phrase, "by skillful means."

How does one deal with such a crisis skillfully? In the opening days after the tragedy I thought that the United States and the President responded quite skillfully. The memorial service in the National Cathedral was moving, and it drew us together as a nation. It also drew other nations into sympathy for the tragedy. Other skillful things were done. The President went to the heads of the Muslim organizations in this country in order to make it very clear that this was not a war against Islam; it was a war against terrorism. And then when some hoodlum killed a Muslim child, the President said he was ashamed that any American would do that. All of that I think gets good ratings for skillful means. There was the statement in yesterday's paper that the President intends to send $230 million dollars in food relief to Afghanistan to make it clear that we are not opposed to the people of Afghanistan. But then there are the jingoist voices which assert that we have the power and we are going to use it in any way we can. We hear the jingoist violent language such as we will get Bin Laden Dead or Alive. This is a very serious and dangerous time, and skillful means have never been more needed by our country.

I will make two or three more observations. One is that if we think of life as karmically governed then it is not right for one nation to possess such disproportionate power and wealth when two-third of the world lives in poverty. Somehow, if it's a moral universe, this imbalance has to be corrected. The message to us is that we have a moral obligation to move into the direction of more equitable distribution of earth's resources. We must put our emphasis on working together for human good. We know that one country cannot rule the world. We must work co-operatively with other nations for a fairer distribution of income and power.

As we grieve and mourn, it is also a time for repentance. On the morning of September 11, the San Francisco Chronicle went to press before the devastation of the Word Trade Center building. That means that virtually nobody read the Chronicle because they were listening to news which updated what was in the paper. But my wife, who happens to be a very vigilant student of the press, read the Chronicle. On the front page was a story with the headline "The War Goes On and On." But it wasn't the war against terrorism. The deed had not happened when the paper went to press. The reference to war was the war in Viet Nam some thirty years ago. According to the news report, in Viet Nam, Agent Orange was still killing children, causing them to be still born or deformed. This is not to justify in the least the horrendous acts of terrorism against the Pentagon and the World Trade Center buildings. We must not justify it by saying that we have killed in wars far more people than the 5,000 who died in that raid. Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Experts say the war could have been brought to a close if the atom bomb had been detonated on a deserted island just to show the power that would be asserted if the Japanese did not give up. And there are many other instances, but the list would be endless. It is a time to mourn, a time for resolve, a time for courage and clear thinking, a time for repentance, and a time for using skillful means.***

Professor Huston Smith is a renowned commentator and author on world religions, and a member of the Advisory Board of AHIMSA.

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Human Spirit and World Peace

Swani Prabuddhananda

Om. May there be peace in heaven. May there peace in the sky. May there be peace on earth. May there be peace in the water. May there be peace in the plants. May there be peace in the trees. May there be peace in all. May that peace, real peace, be ours-A Vedic Prayer.

September 11 is so much on our minds today. We have mixed reactions. On one side, we have feelings of disappointment and anger; on the other side, feelings of compassion and unselfishness, such as giving help to the families of the victims. Thus both the worst side and the best side of the human spirit have expressed themselves. Now, in our gatherings such as the Ahimsa meeting today, let us be prayerful, meditative, and thoughtful, because mere emotions and sentiments are not enough. Often they are blind. When emotions take over, however noble they may be, we become blind. So, we need to sit quietly and do some deep thinking. We can examine our ideals but we have to be realistic too. In the context of our idealistic wish-may there be peace in all-let me now share some of my thoughts with you.

First, let us talk about the world peace that all of us want. Peacelessness appears to be the nature of the universe. As the September 11 events have shown, the seeming equilibrium in the world can be upset at any level and at any time. Vedantic scriptures mention three types of disturbing influences. A natural disaster such as an earthquake, a flood, or a famine can disturb our peace. Next, physical violence in interpersonal or personal spheres can disturb our peace. Lastly, any guilt feelings or worry, such as concern about a disease or old age can disturb our mental peace. Many kinds of thoughts come to our mind and, it we are not careful, they disturb our peace. Therefore, the Bhagavad Gita aptly describes this world as a battlefield. Here is another relevant quote on the subject which I have taken from the Dictionary of the History of Ideas, published in 1973:

The twentieth century has brought with it violence of unprecedented intensity and scope. Earlier wars, although centrally important, were isolable phenomena; now even the quality of peacetime life has been modified by the demands and the anxieties of undeclared wars, cold wars, and military preparations. War is an industry which contributes to the economic prosperity and technological development of a nation. War has become an integral part of the organization of society.

It seems, therefore, that violence is a part of life; peacelessness is a part of life. Interestingly, sometimes humans act violently, not because of an external cause but just because they like to fight. Some people have a tendency for violent behavior, such as we see in some children who love to argue and fight. There are times when people like to justify their fight as a just war. Again, when we analyze these just wars in the global context, we find that today a person or a group is seen as a peacemaker and tomorrow the same person or the group is branded a terrorist or a warmonger. This sort of conduct can be summed us by the two words(ludicrous and opportunistic. If we look at the situation honestly, it will bring dispassion toward the whole affair. To achieve peace many things have been tried with all good intentions in the fields of science, technology, governance (monarchy, communism, and democracy), and even religion. But they all seem to have failed.

Let us talk about law and order in society. Every country, every community has laws for good behavior in schools, colleges, and in other social situations. Goodhearted, thoughtful people have been obeying these rules all the time; still there is a lot of strife. Why should it be like this? And, in spite of failure, there is an intense desire in the human heart for peace and happiness. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says if there is no peace, how can there be happiness? We all want peace; we all want happiness, but what do we get in the end? In bringing world peace, was Mahatma Gandhi successful? How about Martin Luther King? How about Lord Buddha, Lord Jesus, or Lord Krishna? Had they been successful, there would not have been so much violence today in the name of peace. It seems that there are many contradictions that we must resolve to address this issue. Let me quote here a few lines from one of the lectures of Swami Vivekananda:

It is simply a statement of facts as they exist, that the very basis of our being is contradiction, that wherever there is good, there must also be evil, and wherever there is evil, there must be some good; wherever there is life, death must follow as its shadow, and whoever smiles will have to weep, and vice versa. Nor can this state of things be remedied.

This world is like a dog's curly tail. Can we change this world? In an absolute sense, no. But in a relative sense, yes. We can do something in our own sphere, in a small measure. Thus, the Vedanta philosophy is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the nature of things. It considers both views and accepts things as they are. Therefore, the question arises where is the hope for world peace? In this phenomenal world, there is no hope. In science there is no hope, in technology there is no hope, in politics there is no hope, in formal religion there is no hope. Vedanta says that the hope is in the human spirit. The true human spirit alone is the solution to all our problems. Research laboratories, governments, temples, mosques, and churches-they do their job as best as they can, just as hospitals and doctors do. The advances in the medical sciences may have prolonged human life by ten or twenty years, but have they found any permanent cure for all diseases? Many of the same diseases are still going on. Similarly, the disease of hatred and violence have been going on for as long as we can remember.

What is the human spirit? Swami Vivekananda says:

Whatever may be the surface waves, deep down and underlying everything is an infinite basis of goodness and love. So long as we do not reach that basis, we are troubled, but having once reached that zone of calmness, let the winds howl and tempests rage. The house which is built on a rock of ages cannot shake.

In Vedanta philosophy, the human spirit is characterized as satyam, shivam, sundaram, priyam, and advaitam, which means truth, goodness, beauty, love and oneness. To know that I and my brother are one. The oneness of the human spirit is the essence of religion. Call that oneness God or by any other name you like, this oneness of the human spirit is our only hope. If we perform all our work and all our duties with the constant awareness of the spirit within, this world will have some meaning. When things appear meaningless, we become cynical. We lose faith unless our actions are rooted in the human spirit. Having established ourselves in the spirit, handle the world. The mystics tell us to hold on to the Lord with one hand and fight the battle of life with the other hand. Feel the essence of God in every act you perform. If you do not hold the hand of God, you stumble.

Many peacemakers and people with good intentions in the world become frustrated and give up because they are not rooted in the oneness of the human spirit. And that is precisely the power and the glory of the human spirit. The human spirit is our steadfast and unfailing friend. It is always there. For one established in the spirit, there is no disappointment. Mahatma Gandhi did not leave with any disappointment; Buddha did not leave with any disappointment; Jesus did not leave with any disappointment. They have shown us the way. Let us reflect on this truth and adopt it in our life.***

Swami Prabuddhananda is Head of Vedanta Society of Northern California, San Francisco. He is a member of the Ahimsa Advisory Board.

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Spiritual Practice for Personal and Community Peace

Heng Sure

Forty years ago, my father took me to the gun show at the Toledo Ohio Civic Armory. I was ten years old, and I worshipped strength. We parked the family station wagon, walked inside and saw under the armory roof all the killing tools of human history. There was a full set of knights armor from the days of King Arthur, there were lances, there were Viking axes, Apache bows and arrows, Samurai swords, Gurkha lances, Ninja daggers, dueling pistols, hunting knives, an M16 rifle, land mines, bazookas, mortars, artillery cannons, and a decommissioned atomic bomb. That collection of killing technology was very exciting. A typical American youth of the sixties, I was overexposed to commercially driven bloodshed on television. From programs with names like Gunsmoke and Combat to napalm bombs on the evening news, I had become desensitized to violence. The average American child under sixteen has been a witness to 100,000 acts of media depicted violence many of them lethal.

Standing on the aisle at the Gun Show, I lifted a Samurai sword. I felt the weight and the intent of so much sharp steel. I felt a raw, glandular reaction in my guts. I felt my eyes narrowing, reflected in the shiny blade of that sword, and then I raised my eyes and looked around. I watched the muscles and the face of the man beside me as he lifted a Civil War muzzle-loading musket and looked down the gun sight at my father's back. My hands clutched my Samurai sword grip, the killing tool in my hand, as my eyes turned that man into an enemy in my thought. It was only later after reflection that an insight explained my experience at the gun show. I had judged the angle of my swing of that sword to cut off the man's head right at his neck as he aimed at my father. In the turning of a thought I had a war come and go in my heart. It took me an afternoon and a morning to realize what I had done, to see this elemental cycle at work.

Once upon a time, human weapon used to be simple. It was my fist to your jaw, your foot to my groin. Clubs and axes made of wood then surpassed this weapon and we had the first turning of the elemental weapons cycle. A club extended our reach and could be more devastating. That was true until weapons of wood became tipped with bone or stone or metal. When the next elemental weapons cycle turned, it was in fact metal weapons cycle that could be shot from a distance. They completely wiped out the wooden weapons. The warriors who used weapons of steel or wood tipped with steel fell to those who used weapons of fire. Weapons of fire, of course, were guns. And with a gun you could stand outside the range of a bow and arrow or a sword and wipe out the enemy, destroy his body and his ability to kill. Metal cuts wood in the Chinese scheme of the five elemental cycles. Fire transforms wood and melts metal. I envisioned that "cute" atomic bomb that was there at the gun show. It had a name. It was Bully Pup or something like that. And I realized that there was one more turning of the elemental weapons cycle and that was a weapon of water. Now what would a weapon of water be. A hydrogen bomb. That is an ultimate weapon in terms of its power to destroy. So again, wood digs earth, metal chops wood, fire melts metal, water quells fire.

But my mind turned one more step, as I remembered my reaction to seeing my father in danger metaphorically at the gun show. There is another element at work and that is the weapon of the mind. And we are back to earth again, not just the physical world but also the world of thoughts, weapon of the mind, the ultimate weapon. Those five cycles in the Chinese scheme mutually destroy and they also mutually give birth. So, the very same mind can be used toward peace. If we refuse to allow thoughts of hatred, thoughts of otherness, thoughts of enmity, then we give birth to a world in harmony.

I thought about human hands receiving all those weapons of war over the centuries and millennia. Think about those hands--they are mostly men's hands. Few women's hands take weapons of war onto the battlefield, though that is changing bit by bit. Mostly they are the hands of men. Their skin is pink, black, brown, yellow, red and shades in between as they grasp the handle, the stocks, the trigger, and push the button of countless weapons. But there are some interesting statistics involved here. Of all the hands that pick up a weapon, half of them drop it and are killed. At each successive evolutionary stage of technology of wars, it takes human hands to realize the destruction inherent in the weapon, but more importantly, it takes human thoughts to activate the hands and realize the destruction latent in the weapon. Power to kill in that piece of sharpened steel in my hands arose from a thought of hatred and war in my own mind. That is the ultimate source of war and peace. The first step in the process was the idea of an enemy in my thoughts. I witnessed in my own face in that shining Samurai sword my minds ability to turn a human being into an enemy in the movement of a thought. It was shocking to realize how a thought of hatred can set off a chain of destruction that leads to the killing of a life. Throughout history only one spark in the mind was needed to raise an army of hands that picked up the weapons. I lost all interest in the gun show when I tried to imagine my hand becoming lifeless in the case I get killed by the enemy.. I didn't want to go back to the gun show the next year. I wasn't intrigued anymore by weapons. I was alarmed by their violence. I was committed to understand in my mind how I could create the deadly difference between myself and the other person so easily. And I wanted to find a way to restrain my mind.

Now I know more about thoughts. Thoughts are invisible: they can be deadly but they can also be turned into a blessing by a governor. We need a controller of those killing thoughts. Weapons are less dangerous than harmful thoughts in our mind. War is not possible if our minds are unarmed. Fourteen years after that gun show I attended a Buddhist retreat in a monastery. For the very first time I saw an image of Quan Yin Bodhisattva, the bodhisattva of great compassion. I was told that Quan Yin means the Bodhisattva, the awakened being who hears the cries of the world. Quan Yin appears in many forms, often feminine, sometime remarkably like the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus, a wonderful synergy. The one I was looking at in the Monastery was a thousand-handed, thousand-eyed Quan Yin Bodhisattva. Each had a thousand ears to hear the sounds of suffering. Each hand and eye is there to help a sentient being who cries or who calls on Quan Yin's name. After being initially puzzled about why so many hands, I remembered my vision of the gun show fourteen years earlier and how thoughts of hatred can turn people into targets. The thoughts of otherness makes enemies of being who essentially belong to one human family. I understood that Quan Yin Bodhisattva's thousand hands came from her/his vow to help all beings. I was touched by the thought of a way to use hands that do not harm.

Quan Yin's compassion is based on the element of water. Water purifies all blood. The element of fire transforms all souls, the element of earth makes up our bodies, and air fills our lungs and the universe. So, this single substance that we share with all beings unites all bodies. We all have one yearning toward well-being, peace and happiness that unites all hearts. That I think is the inspiration that moved Quan Yin to great kindness and which alleviated all suffering. Great compassion gives rise to joy. The choice is really ours now.***

Rev. Heng Sure is the Director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, and a member of the Board of Directors of AHIMSA.

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A Page from the Diary of a Walking Pilgrim

Disciple Kuo Chen

"Three steps and a bow, walking pilgrimage," wants to stop wars, disasters, calamities, and suffering of all kinds. Our handout sheet that explains our work says, "If our bowing is sincere, then calamities and suffering will be reduced, and wars and destructive weapons will gradually disappear.

Americans are not unique in the mental preparation for killing. Ever society has respected the soldier castes: India's Kshatriyas, Japan's Samurai, Rome's Centurions, the British Navy--all have maintained the sanction for bloodshed. Civilizations without armies are the exception. One can make a case that people are violent and savage by nature. I took killing for granted until a few years ago, when I began to question it. "Where did all the disasters and misery of this world come from? I wondered. "Is it our lot as people to kill? I found my answer. My heart awoke to the Buddha's way of kindness and compassion when I read these words written by Ch'an Master Hua in Water-Mirror Reflecting Heaven: "There are so many wars! How sorrowful! How painful! Every single disaster comes from acts of killing ... and acts of killing from the mind ... What is the present time? It is the time of the imminent extinction of living beings. As we look around the Dharma Realm, we see that countries battle each other, families contend with each other, individuals struggle against one another, on and on until great wars between world systems arise ... I hope that the leaders of all countries will embody the preference heaven and earth have for life, establish good government and dispense justice, banish quarreling and dispense with greed, ignore themselves and help others, benefit themselves by benefiting others, see the Universe as one family, and see all people as one person. An ancient Worthy said - If anyone is killed, it is as if I killed him myself..."

What a powerful statement against war! Here was the solid principle I sought. How clear-cut and simple: don't kill. See all people as kinfolk. It illumined our upside-down preference for death over life.

disciple Kuo Chen (Heng Sure)

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Building a Harmonious Environment for Adolescent Learners

Gloria Cooper

Building Islands of Peace in a Violent World is a timely title for this conference coming as it does just after the happenings of September 11. The suicide bombings have heightened our awareness of at least two conditions: (1). There is overwhelming violence and destruction on our planet. (2). America is ready and willing to wage war.

Both are very disturbing to me. They are disturbing because despite the bitter lessons of the past governments we still have an appetite for killing, terrorizing, and extorting the innate freedoms of the human family. It is also disturbing because representatives of the American government have given us, the politically naive and uninformed public, only one choice: to send our sons and our daughters into a long, expensive war against an unknown enemy. In all of this, the voice of peace, the voice that should be the first to answer the call of violence is seen as radical and unpatriotic. It is also disturbing because as a teacher in my work with adolescents, I have come to realize that adolescence is not an age. We can be adults and still act as though we were children.

Over the past twenty years I have developed in my school a non-violent learning environment for adolescents. During the first weeks of school we start off with conflict management and empowerment skills. Every year my work gets harder, and September the 11th did not help. Over the years I have noticed that my students exhibit more high-risk attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs - things that they have learned from the world they live in. The first such behavior they exhibit is disrespect. Disrespect shows its head very early. The adolescent often lies to himself about his own particular attitudes and behaviors. He is deaf. He is blind. He cannot see what he is doing. Adolescents are impulsive. They strike out without thinking. They avoid responsibility. They would rather defend or deflect or delay the lessons that need to be learnt. They exhibit inappropriate behaviors or language. Their tolerance for anything that conflicts with their desires is very, very low.

The question arises, how did our beautiful, wonderful, absolutely perfect babies turn into these children? They were not born this way. They did not come into the world this way. It seems that by the time they are very young they have been transforming into the people I'm talking about here. In thinking about what could be happening to our perfect babies, I decided it was time for me as a teacher to look at our society in America, Therefore, what I have prepared today is America's report card. The students reflect the attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs of the society they live in. This is a progress report for the period 1776 to 2001 for the union commonly know as America. For this report card, I have taken America's Constitutional directive to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, provide for the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for all.

America's Report Card

Establishing Justice - I have given America an "incomplete grade" because America struggles with a justice system that is influenced by the affluent. The dignity and value of all people being equal before the law remains an assignment to be completed.

Insure Domestic Tranquility - I have given America an "unsatisfactory progress grade," because overburdened with conditions that keep the people from being a unity, America is at war with herself. Her potential to pursue daily life without fear of violence is severely curtailed. Her emotional, intellectual and spiritual progress therefore has been unsatisfactory.

Provide for the Common Defense - America gets a C+ grade because America invests lot of time and energy on researching and developing weapons of mass destruction. The result is that her technology has grown faster than her ability to assimilate long-term consequence.

Provide for the General Welfare - "Incomplete" grade because America demonstrates little effort in governance so the people are free of poverty, hunger and war. She gives more attention to transnational corporations and their welfare while the people's welfare remains at risk.

Securing the Blessings of Liberty for All - D+ grade because the wealthy elite, answerable only to themselves, alienate the people from their inalienable rights. America has allowed her civil liberties and freedoms to be reduced to marketable commodities. Her efforts to secure the blessings of liberty for all people show little progress.

When students receive a report card that is unsatisfactory, a conference with the parents is requested and often a psychological profile is drawn up so that the student can have better success in the future. So, with some help from America's Founding Fathers, I have developed a very simple evaluation profile. During the developmental history of America, born 1776 and now 225 years old, she declared that we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights: among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thus a union of people governed by the people was born. Unfortunately, America tried to fit these ideals onto a European social structure that divided people between the haves and the have-nots, the privileged and the underprivileged. Corporate and special interest groups divided the union and eventually usurped the people's power.

As we go on with the report card I find that these behavior characteristics are very similar to the behaviors I see in young adolescents. During the past 25 years, America has upset the balance and the peace with violent tendencies. She has institutionalized violence in homes, in schools, in communities, in the media, in industry, in government, and in the culture. She has terrorized the world with weapons of destruction and uses the media surreptitiously to put forth the agenda of the industry-military complex. She has ignored the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of her youth. She has substituted junk food for real food. She allows her children to indulge in immature behaviors and violent entertainment. She also encourages students to subtly ridicule spiritual values. America has trashed the environment in the name of progress. She uses more than her share of natural resources and allows an elite portion of the population to own, market, and sell with great profit the labors of the human family. These actions, behaviors and attitudes are similar to adolescent behaviors in the world.

I say to my students sometimes, "You must change so that the world can change." The truth is they were already born perfect. What they really need to do is take that important step, i.e. instead of looking at the external world for the answers to who we are and why we are here and what is our purpose in life, we need to move within. We don't have a proper language to describe what moving within means. We are talking about that inward place which is not confined to any space. That is infinite from which we come. It is the love and the wisdom that we all come into this world with. We were born to be loving. We were born to be compassionate. We were born to honor others and ourselves. When I look at my students I realize that they have cloaked themselves with the behaviors of society because they have become fearful that somehow something is wrong with them; that somehow they are not born at right time. One of my students said during the aftermath of September 11, "I'm willing to die. I have come to that conclusion that I have to get myself prepared if that is what's going to happen."

You, me, and the rest of us all are challenged at this time to go within. We are challenged to use the only weapon that can be used against evil or darkness and that is our light. One of the teachers at the school reminded me that only shadow fights shadow. Light doesn't have to fight. It just is. That light comes from within. If we say to ourselves that love is all there is. What does it mean? I know that love is all there is but there seems to be a turning off that can happen with love. The flip side or the opposite side of love is the fear of not having love. As a result of that fear, disorders occur.

I believe we are experiencing severe fear disorders. The solution to that is love. Not just the kind of superficial love that says, "Oh, I love you." It has to have all the qualities of love. The first quality is respect. Give yourself no excuse for not respecting another. Disrespect is cleared; it is transformed with respect. It's just that simple. Blindness is counteracted with awareness. Awareness of where we are going in the external world or the internal world. Impulsiveness is cleared with patience. Avoiding responsibility is transformed by being responsible. Inappropriate responses mean that we have to make appropriate responses. Low trust, which many adolescents exhibit, means that we have to learn how to be trustful and trustworthy.

I am not surprised by the events of today because to tell you the truth it has been a building process. What are we going to do about it? Do I have to do something? I believe what we have to do is very simple. Declare our hearts a no war zone. Declare we will not arm ourselves with hate. And so, I want to remind all of us that peace has always been and still is an inside job. What we see in our environment around us is an accumulation of our collective love. If it makes us uncomfortable, then we got to do something very simple. Change. Declare "Love" as our banner. I tried to think what my students would say to me. I am going to close with a message from the adolescents in our society, "Dear adults! Your children need your love, attention and care. We are starving. As a flower matures with care and attention, so do we. Like plants we prevail against the storms of society if you put us in a protective environment. America's fascination with violence, fear, sexual fantasy, drugs and wars has put us at risk. Too many of us are dying. We, the light of your light, are not the lost, violent generation. We are merely a reflection of you."***

Gloria Cooper is the Founder and Director of the New Age Academy, a Model Learning School in Berkeley.

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Community Violence Solutions

Charles Clemmons

Part of what I do at Children's Hospital, Center for Child Protection, is to work with children who have been sexually abused. I would like to define violence as an abuse of power that causes harm. Why do people choose violence? Do they choose violence because it seems to achieve a goal or satisfy a need? Can we introduce social activities that can decrease violence and increase a person's ability to be non-violent. These are some of the issues which I will address.

What kinds of powers people abuse? There is physical power, knowledge power, and the most insidious, charismatic power. A teacher, a priest, a doctor must choose what he says very carefully because he/she can do great harm. A pseudo religious, military, or government leader can send young men off to war saying charismatically that this is God's will. Power is intoxicating. Those who have it, think that somehow they are superior. Once a young lawyer asked a religious man what are the two greatest commandments. And the religious man replied that the first is to love the Lord the God with all your heart, and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself. On those two rest all the other laws. It seemed a good answer. But then, how do you teach young people to love themselves. If you are in turmoil within yourself you're not going to find it easy to love your neighbor. Jacob Wasserman in 1910 wrote, "Good and evil are not determined by the intercourse of people with one another but entirely by a person's relationship with himself." We in our families and our communities must help to shape each person's relationship with himself.

Nonviolent Community Solutions Rape Crisis Center, was started in 1975 to help victims of sexual assault and rape. We have volunteers who go out when somebody has been molested or raped. We help families through the process. I have told five-year-old girls and their mother after I've examined them, "You're ok. You're not damaged." And then I tell the mother, "She's only damaged if you think that she is damaged." At the same time we gather the facts, go to the courts, get convictions. The sexual assault team at the Children's Interview Center determines the facts so that the potential perpetrators of sexual assault will be stopped. Through Prevention Services we go out and we teach young women and children how to say, No, I'm not going there. You may not do that!" Through Clinical Services we offer therapy to help individuals and families heal. When we do this, we really start to make a difference. When a person decides to choose a nonviolent path to meet his needs, real healing begins for himself and for the community. The cycle of violence is broken and those children who are so beautiful, don't have to grow up in pain and turmoil.

Circle of Care is the fifth program that we started to help young women who are in trouble with the law. For six months, they attend a program that helps them learn self-respect, and we help them learn to strive. What we are doing in Circle of Care is forming a good gang. I want all of you to form good gangs. I've seen a gang of priest. I've seen a gang of doctors. Gangs are composed of people who have come together and have a common way of thinking and acting. If the focus of this gang is something good, that's great. Why do young children join bad gangs? Because their needs are not being met. They need to feel that they belong, that they are secure.

Rape Crisis Center, the Sexual Assault Response Team and the Child Interview Center, the Rape Prevention Services, the Clinical Services, and the Circle of Care make up our Community Violence Solutions network. Now the Board of Directors of Community Violence Solutions is considering to establish Child Care Centers in the cities of Richmond and Martinez. We want to combat violence generated by drug abuse by teaching non-violet child care and parenting skills. This would be more than a mere childcare center. It would have parenting skills and also be a community violence solutions coordinating center. The Catholic Youth basketball program after school will help the youth meet a social need in a nonviolent way. These programs will help people help themselves, help their community, and help each individual develop love for himself or herself in filling the blank that Jacob Wasserman alluded to about good and evil.***

Dr. Charles Clemmons is a pediatrician at the Children's Hospital in Oakland and Kaiser Hospital in Richmond, CA.

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Education in Non-Violence

Kaliya Young

The field of non-violence education has been developing rapidly in the last twenty years in both theory and practice. One of the difficulties of studying in this field is its interdisciplinary nature. You can't specialize in this area like you do in other academic disciplines. The type of non-violence I am talking about is not mere conflict resolution but about forming a culture of peace. The UN has declared this decade, from the year 2001 to 2010, the decade of peace. Yesterday, I went to the University of Peace website to see what large institutions were leading the way in this field. I found a report published six months ago, entitled Education for Peace in the Twenty-first Century. Non-violence is not mentioned even once in this context in the report. There is a reference to the Carnage Commission on preventing deadly conflict. So, I went to the Carnage Commission report. Non-violence is written about but primarily in terms of conflict resolution. The report makes politically safe references to non-violence social movements led by Gandhi and King to address large systematic injustices, British Imperialism, and institutionalized racism. No mention is made of the large non-violent movement commonly called anti-globalization that is addressing the inequalities within our economic system and the un-democratic nature of world government institutions such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, and others.

A large-scale social movement is emerging in the world that might be described as the movement for a non-violent world. People are seeking to build a world that works for all. Two movements are converging. One is focused on consciousness that is primarily concerned with inner development of the individual. The other is focused on community development that works on worldwide social issues. Believe it or not, there are 50 million Americans participating in these movements. They are creating a new culture that has one foot in the mainstream or the Newtonian worldview, and the other foot in the alternative or the holistic worldview. You may call them constructive post-modernism but a better name would be cultural creatives. Gandhi was a cultural creative at the time when less than one percent of the people in the world were.

In the sixties, in the United States, 5% of the people were but today 25% of adult Americans are cultural creatives. They cultivate their own holistic worldview despite what the mainstream media tell them. They see the world as interrelated and interconnected at its deepest levels. Their inner lives are related to their outer lives and health of those around them and the biosphere that they live in. They are the practical idealists. There is no one leader of this movement. It is made up of groups that includes faith organizations.

Non-violence education I believe must be focused on clearly articulating for those using non-violent soul force, and how it can be used to build a constructive movement. I am working on the development of a non-violence concept map to hold the emerging non-violent ways of addressing problems in a common format based on pattern language developed by Christopher Alexander. Non-violence education is very useful for those who are socially aware but desire change out of fear and anger, rather than out of heart-centered love. They need to be educated about spiritual force options to shift into heart-centered action. The Franciscan Center for Non-Violence Education has been working in this field, and more needs to be done. This form of education might also include socially responsible business people, like those in green business movement. This group of people is striving to create industrial systems that don't harm the planet, and they need a spiritual home. Another form of non-violence education is needed for those who are spiritually aware but are socially na?e about the issues that need to be addressed like white privilege, legacies of colonialism, and continued economic injustice in the world economic order. Marianne Williamson, who regularly appears on the Oprah's TV Show, has written a book called Healing the Soul of America to introduce to spiritually aware people the need for outer as well as inner work. She regularly references Gandhi and King in the deepest sense of what their life's work was about. She has founded the Global Renaissance Alliance. She said last week on the Oprah Show--we need to build cells of peace and non-violence throughout America.

When can this education in non-violence begin? Well it is happening now. People are talking to the media about the need for appropriate, short-term, non-violence response. Over the long term it is building a world that works for all and affirms the dignity of every human being. Another kind of non-violence education is for people who are neither socially nor spiritually aware. One way this can happen is an amazing event that is taking place for the fifth year in a row, called the season for non-violence that is the period between January 30 and April 4--the memorial anniversaries for Gandhi and King. Founded by the Association for Global New Thought, it is a decentralized movement with task forces around the country, and groups can hold events that are non-violent and tap into the national media focus. A curriculum for those 64 days has been developed by the Center for the Advancement of Non-Violence and is being taught in public schools. It addresses first the personal and then the interpersonal and finally the community. It can be found at the website, www.nonviolenceworks.org. Another program that is addressing the whole community, not just schools, is called the Violence Prevention and Peace Promotion Strategy, and it is located in Chicago.

I have been attending over twelve conferences a year for the last two years. One of the things that happen at these conferences is a sense of community. People who attend regularly get to know each other and a community is formed over time. Well, there are circles developing in this country which are rebuilding the community that has been destructed in our modern life. To name a few there are Global Renaissance Alliance circles, Citizens circle, Four Directions circles, United Religions Initiative circles, Wisdom circles, and Women's circles. People are returning to their traditional faiths or joining new ones. Education is possible in all these forms. Joanna Macy suggested that people should join discussion courses such as those created by the Women's International League for Peace and the Northwest Earth Institute. The last two conferences I attended actually had participants circle up so they could process and digest what they had just heard from the talking heads. These forms acknowledge the seeds of possibility for a non-violent world, but they will take time to grow.

Another bridge between the individual and community is the growing of food. This helps get us in touch with the slow speed of life, to understand the nature of the growth process,, and to connect the earth specifically with our own bio-origins. Those who live in apartments can grow herbs. Families who own their own homes could grow food not lawns, and communities could develop farms which will give them common space in the physical world. From the produce grown in these gardens community potlucks could be held where neighbors get to know each other and a whole other host of good, positive community development could come out of them. In the long term, I suggest the creation of lighthouses of knowledge throughout our cities--these are spaces created and founded in community, not institutionalized by bureaucracy.

Education for non-violence will bring us closer to a future of radical democracy that will enable us to participate in every decision affecting our lives. One of the great stewards of this field is Tom Atley who has a web site: www.democracyinnovations.org. He also collects sophisticated group processes at www.cointelligence.org. Money must be reclaimed by community and regrounded in human values. The local currency movement is all around the world. In all of these ideas, keep in mind that one must start with one's own community. We must be grounded in our community and ourselves. In this age, it is vital that people do stand in solidarity with each other. By focusing too much on helping others solve their problems does not allow us to solve our own.

Helping is a complex process. Giving international food aid that collapses local food markets with floods of free food may make it very difficult for local farmers. We must address large-scale social inequalities and structural violence. One of the main structurally violent forms that affect us all is the media. All of us can participate in a non-violent program for constructive media by turning off our television sets. The rebuild-ing of a collective cultural mythology is essential because right now it is being formed by profit seeking corporations. This begins with our children watching cartoons, which creates a pre rational associa-tion with violence and humor. Hollywood is looking desperately for appropriate narrative right now and I think those who know about non-violence have a responsibility to let Hollywood know about its power. America needs to cultivate and find master storytellers like the late Jim Henson to rebuild this culture from one of violence as its predominate myth to one of non-violence.

What I have outlined briefly in this talk is a broad view of some of the emerging experiments in non-violent education at a multitude of levels.***

Kaliya Young is the Director of Metta Center for Education in Non-Violence, Berkeley.




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