Understanding the force of nonviolence

To understand nonviolence, we must first shed the cultural conditioning that has us view violence as the default.

Soul of Nonviolence” is a podcast that reflects on a different nonviolence quote each week. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or via RSS.

“Nonviolence is not a set of tactics but a force that is inherent in the human spirit. To fully understand it requires a change in consciousness and a recommitment to a set of core values. To restore our democracy, save the planet, and remind us of the possibility of peace we long for, we require a dramatic cultural shift wherein we each take ownership of our own actions and the principles of nonviolence. ”
— U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal, in Foreword to “The Third Harmony” by Michael Nagler

This week’s quote from Representative Jamila Jayapal helps us to undo common misperceptions of nonviolence and explore its true meaning. As is clear in the quote, it is a concept often not easily understood since it first requires a person to shed cultural conditioning that has us view violence as the default, allowing us to see the values underneath.

Here we explore some definitions of what nonviolence is and is not, quoting Michael Nagler from his book “The Third Harmony,” quoting Gandhi and challenging our tendencies to define things by putting them in neat little boxes. We discuss how those boxes may help with making sense of the world in some ways, but distract us from the underlying connection between ourselves and every other thing in this universe. That underlying connection — which we discover by immersing in the unknown — helps us to truly understand the force of nonviolence.