In 2017 I wrote a piece inspired by “Nonviolent Lives: People and Movements Changing the World Through the Power of Active Nonviolence,” an excellent book by Ken Butigan. Today, I bring those reflections back again, hoping that they might serve to re-energize us to continue the diligent work that will transform ourselves and bring Heaven to Earth.
It’s time to teach nonviolence. It is time to flood the curricula of our schools with subjects that can improve human relations such as Nonviolent Communication, Nonviolent Conflict Resolution, Character Education, Mindfulness Meditation, Restorative Justice, Mediation, and Social and Emotional Learning. It is time to teach less about the violent warriors and more about the nonviolent peacemakers. “Nonviolent Lives,” a book by Ken Butigan, inspires its readers to consider that they, too, can be agents of change through nonviolent means.
This book highlights a group of individuals who dedicated themselves to bring about justice and peace through active nonviolent resistance. Although we can more easily remember the names and great feats of those heroes who risked and lost their lives, this book also brings to light other less known peacemakers, revealing that the path to justice and peace is mostly made of small and persistent acts of defiance. Many of the individuals mentioned in Butigan’s book didn’t do anything tremendously daring and heroic to begin with; they simply decided that they could not remain as bystanders and allow wrongdoing to go on. They had the courage to step outside of their comfort zone, speak up, and expose the perpetrators of injustices, day in and day out. And this is something that we all can do. By carrying out small acts of civil disobedience, protest, and resistance, they initiated waves of social change that brought us closer to achieving what should be the aim of mankind: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
“Nonviolent Lives” is a book that proves, through many examples, the great power of active nonviolent resistance to beget social change. This book is, also, a calling to the political involvement and activism so needed nowadays in this world of ours, a world plagued by all sorts of direct and indirect violence.
When will we put an end to social injustice, oppression, exploitation, bigotry, discrimination, exclusion, income inequality, and poverty? When we will say “enough is enough” to human rights abuses, torture, environmental aggression, war, and the continuous development of weapons of mass destruction? When will we put an end to all this insanity? When will we pause and realize that this planet of ours is a beautiful place of immense abundance with more than enough for everybody? When will we realize that we can organize ourselves to live on it in gentle and cooperative ways that will allow everyone to have dignified, thriving and contributing lives?
The truth is that everything we do for justice and peace, no matter how small, adds up to bring about a culture of compassion and solidarity that one day will prevail in this world. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The stories in this book prove that this is absolutely true.
“Nonviolent Lives” takes us to walk on the same paths of those peacemakers who came before us. If we pay attention, we can hear them calling us to join them. Let us heed their calling.
“Nonviolence is not a political weapon or a technique for social change so much as it is an essential art—perhaps the essential art—of civilization. Nonviolence is a way of thinking, a way of life, not a tactic, but a way of putting love to work in resolving problems, healing relationships, and generally raising the quality of our lives. Nonviolence is a skill. Love is a skill. The transformation of anger is a skill. All these can be learned. We cannot say we aren’t capable of nonviolence; all we can say is we are not willing to do what is necessary to learn.”~ Eknath Easwaran
Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches Mindfulness Meditation and Mindful Living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He leads mindfulness silent retreats and organizes Silent Peace Walks. He lives in Florida, USA. Join his Mindfulness Meditation and Mindfulness Living sessions at Yoga Source in Coral Springs (Sundays at 9:00 AM) and at Shiwa Yoga in Deerfield Beach (Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 AM)
Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store
– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”