There are a lot of misconceptions about nonviolence running rampant out in the world, but one of the most disempowering is the myth that goes something like, “in order to practice nonviolence, you have to be perfect, or at least near to it.” I have heard people say, for instance, that they were “too angry” to be nonviolent; or who have suggested that people who get angry are hypocrites if they think that they can strive for a nonviolent ideal even after they have said a harsh word to someone dear to them.
But if nonviolence were only for the ‘perfect’ then where is the hope for anyone else? For any of us, really?
The reality is, nonviolence is precisely the practice of converting one’s anger to creative uses! And it inspires me beyond belief when I hear that anyone has taken up the path because what they are in for is going to be as psychologically and spiritually freeing as it is, at times, tiring and heartbreaking. It is not easy to forgive a person when everything inside of you is telling to you resent them, or distrust them, or move away from them; but in nonviolence, we do just that — not because we are perfect, (because if you are in a situation where forgiveness is being discussed, clearly something did not work out), but because we are not willing to live by the psychological conditioning of separation so many of us have come to accept as normal.
And we do this one step at at time.
We do not become wholly nonviolent without conflict. A state without conflict simply does not exist. So should you throw in the towel and say that nonviolence is not for you, which Gandhi would say is a bar to progress? Or do you see conflict as an opportunity to work your heart muscles and grow–not colder, not more closed off, not more distrustful, but more loving and more supportive? That is the path of nonviolence, a state that grows closer when we take steps toward it.
Find a way to support someone today who is suffering from resentment after a conflict.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org