The Global War on Terror tries to sell us the false idea that we can effectively fight terrorism by killing “terrorists,” instead of addressing the conditions that led to terrorism in the first place. A “short-violent-cut to success,” instead of addressing economic inequality, lack of basic needs like education: that’s long-term work. More difficult, costly, the advocates of violent means proclaim. Why do some of us believe them?
Maria Montessori would suggest, have a look at the way we interact with children. What do we believe is the best way to deal with a tantrum or so-called misbehavior from a child? Perhaps, say, the child has broken a household agreement–or a household item. What do you do? Punish them? Isolate them, as we would send someone to prison? These are our version of “short-violent-cuts to success.” Maybe the tantrum stops, maybe they stay in their room for hours. What did they learn? To become a better communicator, to know how to meet their needs? Or simply that some people have more power than others and they can use that power to get their way? Where there was an opportunity for real transformation–the kind that nonviolence alone can bring about–these short-cuts some parents take daily over time lead children, future grown-ups, to accept these kinds of dynamics in their dealings with others — and go on to raise more children along the same lines. It can give us a keen insight into how we might go beyond violence in our political dealings. Violent short-cuts often lead us into quagmires.
Montessori’s and Gandhi’s ideas were more than a hunch; they were convictions based on their personal experience. But where’s the data to prove it, some might still ask. Professor of Terrorist Studies, Erica Chenoweth, conducted a now world-famous study with Prof. Maria Stephan on the success of nonviolent campaigns worldwide as compared with violent ones. What they found added quantitative support to their convictions: Nonviolent campaigns are twice as likely to succeed than violent ones, and take less time (3 years as opposed to roughly 9). The case is made: the only viable short-cut to success is nonviolence.
How can we develop the habit of looking realistically at the long term when we’re facing a conflict or some kind of personal problem?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org