The family is often a challenging place to practice nonviolence, especially if there are standing conflicts yet unresolved. Brother and sister no longer talk; mother and daughter are alienated; son never forgave father for his problems, etc. A tendency when there is such conflict is often to move away from people, grow in different directions, avoid them whenever possible and wish them well — at best. These relationships, however, matter in nonviolent psychology, and even strategy, because they provide a firm grounding for expanding our ability to engage nonviolence with those who are not “ours of origin.” While Gandhi tells us to expand our vision to include the whole world as members of our own family, he is not telling us to love only anonymous people to whom we may never speak, who may never insult us, or forget something important to us, or ask us to do something we’d prefer not doing. He is telling us to build a firm foundation for nonviolence, respect, and dignity in our own families; with people who will rub against our self-will from time to time, and from there, we cannot help but expand our awareness to include others into that circle. What does it mean to treat one’s family as the whole world, and the whole world as one’s own family? It’s a subtle, but worthy challenge for all of us to consider.
Is there someone in your family to whom you can give your one pointed attention today and offer the gift of deep listening? Find time to practice this.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org