Peace, protective force, compassion

February 11, 2012

Douglas Dolstad, someone Deryk and I found via the nonviolent communication (NVC) network of support, (Douglas is involved in the NVC family camp ) has been sharing ideas with us related to our concerns about the situation of Iran and Israel — our fears that missiles might soon be launched. In part, we were looking for a deeper understanding of the NVC concept of the protective use of force.

Douglas wrote:

What happens when I imagine this violence – even, or especially, if cloaked in the garb of “protective use of force”?  What happens when I think that thought?   Am I willing to go into that depth that has no bottom and needs none to define itself?    Through the halls of rage, and fear and sorrow  to a place where the names drop away and…. there is … a… fire burning?       NVC encourages us to be Alive in every moment as framed by what we’re feeling and needing.  What happens if I go there first – not just briefly as in a mean spirited road house but to linger as in a nest in which I am deeply held?
I know that if I steep in that place, whatever I do next will happen from a different energy.  

Right now, because I’ve been thinking about this in other conversations (like the one I’ve had with Miki Kashtan), when Douglas mentioned “the names dropping away” it seemed to mean the point at which there is no “us” and “them” — no “this side” or “that side” but only individuals. I asked him if that was what he meant and it did indeed seem to resonate with him.    

He asked: What goes on in you when you think these thoughts?  Is there a fierce love present?  A resting place full of power?  It may be that there aren’t individuals either, just needs.      

and part of my answer revolves around whether wanting to change the world is, in itself, a form of violence. because the assertion of wanting to change the world seems to imply an imposed solution. It can feel like a “do it my way”, rather than a “find information, think critically, act for yourself” (which is the view of education and the role of information technology that inspires me, personally).

Here is an addition to my original post (this block of text is an update as of Feb 12) based on a reply from Douglas, who said:

If I want to change the world and do not care of the effects of my actions on others, then I would agree that violence is a likely outcome. If, on the other hand, I want to change the world and extend care to the well being of others as I act to upon the changes I want to see, then the path of nonviolence is of great value. Ahimsa will guide the actions. The action might be minimal or quite major. Depends on circumstances and what evolves. In either case, there is a choice to come from a nonviolent place.

As I see it, what Douglas says requires dimensions of both intent (you mean to change the world in a positive way) and of attention (to ensure that your actions truly do extend care and are not harmful). These ideas could help guide the concept of protective use of force as well.

So what does go on in me when I think about there being no “this side” or “that side” and the “fierce love/resting place full of power” question that Douglas asks. I have felt fierce love at some of the strangest times…. watching an infinitely patient cellphone rep cross a barrier of language and culture to build a plan for my new-to-Canada homestay student, a stranger scrambling to keep a hat from blowing off on a windy day or the expression of joy on the face of a marimba player in an outdoor market (I mention these because they are examples of when a level of love jumps out that is almost completely unexpected — of course fierce love is there for family and friends but it doesn’t contain the same element of surprise.) And yes, though not always consciously, I do feel fierce love for any person doing something to meet a simple (or complex), individual need. And that resting place full of power that Douglas asks about? I’m less certain. It seems more like a resting place of letting go, temporarily. At least for me 🙂

Is there a difference between wanting to change the world and wanting to help individuals change (or wanting them to see/experience new things that might change them?)

Another addition to my original post (again as of Feb 12) — the reply from Douglas:

The moment you, me, anyone changes, the world is changed.

It might just be as simple as that, for better or for worse.

And how does protective force fit with this? The Dalai Lama talks about this and says that a harsh action might sometimes be compassionate — if it is motivated for maximum benefit. Sort of “when all else fails” or like Marshall Rosenberg’s NVC concept of needing to use force to restrain “when the child runs into the street”. See 3/4 of the way down this page for the Dalai Lama answer to an interview question on this topic, noting that he later points to the strategy of solving large problems (like Mandela’s leadership of South Africa towards independence) without “touching the gun”, so the harsh actions are clearly not intended to be the norm.

Marshall Rosenberg talks about it here:

These are my thoughts/questions for today.

And a public thank you to Douglas for pointing us to the film “Fierce Light”

Rational thinking

February 25, 2011

So… I’ve blogged a bit recently about equity and distribution (of power and of material things).

Now it’s time to point to some ideas about science education and rational thinking:

“students are being cheated out of a sound science education” is a quote from:
— an article that discusses the reluctance of many teachers in the US to teach evolutionary ideas.

It’s a frightening perspective that, as the authors say, could have a negative impact on critical thinking skills and how citizens in the future view policy decisions that could impact health, environment and other important matters.

Fortunately, there are authors presenting ideas that support the notion that it’s NOT okay to abandon the foundations of scientific investigation in order to support concepts of spirituality. For instance,

gives reasons why those who embrace religion don’t have to deny science and says:

“Such wild-eyed radicals as Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis and Pope John Paul II have all convincingly argued that the Bible should not be read as a science textbook and that the scientific truth of evolution can coexist with the spiritual truth of God.
Given this and the overwhelming scientific evidence, the real question is not whether evolution exists or whether it can coexist with religion. It does, and it can.”

And there are many other sources with this point of view. Daniel Goleman and the Dalai Lama, in “Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama – 2003”, have helped millions to see that science and spirituality don’t have to be at odds with each other.

Here is a 2007 video clip showing the Dalai Lama’s open-minded perspective

In 2010 the Dalai Lama said
“While looking for solutions for improving the future, one should give more importance to reality and science rather than adopting anything on the basis of beliefs and prejudice”


March 3 update with a quote from the New York Times article on politics and environmental protection:
“It was like the science didn’t matter”