Monday, January 25, 2010

Reality has a nonviolence bias

Most people hitherto have been skeptical of nonviolent resistance simply because they did not understand how it could possibly work. They might be less skeptical once they could see how the method could operate and be effective.
—Richard Gregg, colleague of Gandhi

How can nonviolence end war?

First, help educate people on the history of nonviolent success. They must know this or they will continue to regard nonviolence as counterintuitive, naive, wishful fantasy dreamt up by unrealistic utopians. When they learn that strategic nonviolence usually works and violence usually does not they may at least intellectually begin to consider it. Gene Sharp, Adrian Karatnycky, Maria Stephan and many more scholars offer just such research.

Second, help journalists--reporters, editors, commentators--learn that nonviolence has a growing track record of success and that the hidden stories are often newsworthy and provocative.

Third, teach children that they can always find an alternative to violence. This starts them thinking and problem-solving toward conflict resolution without destruction.

Fourth, challenge religious and moral leadership to be serious about promoting justice by peaceable means. If they do not do so, who will? If they do not promote a peace-oriented theology or philosophy, who will? If they do not square their actions and beliefs, who will?

Fifth, work with the business community to understand that peace is better for business than is war. Don't bother with the war profiteers; they seem so far from learning how to combine business and ethics that your effort is better spent with the business community that can truly benefit from peace as prosperity.

Sixth, help the human services organizations develop a structural analysis of the war system that induces them to take a pro-peace position. Opportunity costs alone are a cogent argument. If our methods of conflict management are taking the lion's share of the discretionary budget, they are far less capable of achieving the human needs goals.

In short, how does constructive conflict management--the nonviolence of mediation and the best democracy--help to reduce the chances of war? It does so as it might in any ecology; the output of each subsystem affects the output of the whole. Changing media, or education, or our spiritual organizations, or our business sector, or law enforcement, or the political system--changing ANY of the subsystems using nonviolence toward more nonviolence is how we will ultimately change the system so that nonviolence can in fact end war.

Gregg, Richard B., The Power of Nonviolence, second revised edition. NYC: Schocken Books, 1966 (original 1935). (43)


Terri said...

I like this breakdown. It might be helpful to take it one more step by linking to groups working on each of these sub systems. Something I'll think about for the peace library.

Tom H. Hastings said...

Great next step! Action toward an ecology of peace...