Nonviolent Global Liberation Founder Miki Kashtan (left).

Weaving nonviolence into the fabric of everyday life

Members of the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community discuss the work of building a truly nonviolent world, one experiment with truth at a time.
Nonviolent Global Liberation Founder Miki Kashtan (left).

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In this week’s episode of Nonviolence Radio, Michael Nagler and Stephanie Van Hook speak with members of the Nonviolent Global Liberation, or NGL, community about their collective and individual experiments in nonviolence, including the process of building and working within the NGL community.

Their commitment and resolve to explore and address all areas of life, from market economies to home life to the even greater question of what it means to be human and deeply experience our shared humanity, reminds us — to paraphrase NGL’s co-founder, Miki Kashtan — that freeing ourselves from our habits and conditioning of violence, to truly build a nonviolent world, requires both “systemic analysis and individual tenderness.”

Stephanie: Well, welcome everybody to another episode of Nonviolence Radio. I’m your host, Stephanie Van Hook, and I’m here in the studio with my co-host and news anchor, Michael Nagler. Welcome, Michael. Nice to be here with you.

Michael: And with you, Stephanie. Thank you.

Stephanie: The Metta Center for Nonviolence, that’s where Michael and I are from. We are in Petaluma, California. And what we do is help to promote and educate about nonviolence, both locally and around the world. And it seems that this is a very needed idea in our world today.

When I opened my email this morning, Michael, there was a question in my inbox from somebody taking a course called 30 Days of Nonviolence, where every single day they’re going to explore a concept or a practice or principle of nonviolence. And the question was – I’m going to put this to you. Now you claim that nonviolence is the answer. It can solve every problem facing us in the world today, which I think is a pretty extravagant claim. But I don’t think it’s an exaggeration, either.

And I was wondering if you wanted to speak to that a little bit for our listeners as well. I mean, let me just start us off as I was thinking of Gandhi saying at his trial – at one of his trials that, “nonviolence is the first article of my faith and the last article of my creed.”

So, with that, Michael, why is nonviolence the answer today?

Michael: What a great question. You know, there’s different ways of looking at nonviolence, the word. What do you mean by it? The very smallest definition is non-dash-violence, which means any act without a physical abusive component. And then you can extend that a little bit to mean any situation in which there is no resentment or hatred towards a person. Important distinction here, you can hate injustice. And Gandhi said that, you know, “I hate from the bottom of my heart, the system of injustice that the British have set up in India. But I refuse to hate any domineering Englishmen, even as I refuse to hate any domineering Hindu.”

Yeah, so the point is that that’s where the real wrench, tear, gap, harm in our consciousness comes about when we’re against the wellbeing of another person. And then you can take it a step further and really look upon all of existence – and I have no objection to this – as an interplay of two forces. There’s a destructive force or a downward force, as they say, and there’s a constructive force or an upward force.

And a word for that constructive force is nonviolence. Unfortunately, it’s a negative word, but once you understand that it is a very positive principle, the next step is to realize that it’s the only principle that really exists. Everything else is a lack of nonviolence. Otherwise, known as love.

And I think it’s very good to orient ourselves every now – well, let’s say to ground ourselves every now and then in that full, basic definition. And then go up from there and say, “Okay, how would that be expressed in a system? And how would it be expressed by an individual? And how should it be expressed by me right now?”

Stephanie: Michael, that’s a really great segue into our first interview for this show today. We had the opportunity to speak with a group of friends from an organization or a collective called, the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community. And their website, NGLcommunity.org, it starts off with their purpose, to integrate nonviolence into the fabric of human life through ongoing – through the ongoing experiments with truth, focused on individual and collective liberation.

And this idea of experimenting with truth and having a community supporting that together, I think is very, very interesting because with the problems that we face in society today, more and more we’re understanding that in order to achieve a nonviolent future, in order to achieve a world of nonviolence, we have to get to the systems. We have to get to the structures. And if everything that we do recreates those structures in some way, then we’re really stuck.

And so, this community of people, based on the work and the teachings of Miki Kashtan, in particular, who is helping to share her body of work with a group of students and partners in this work with her, they’re trying to come together to undo systemic violence in their lives in ways that they don’t know even how to do it yet.

And so, I thought that sharing some of their thinking on this show, sharing how they’re doing experiments with truth, experiments in living, might be part of helping people feel unstuck from everything that’s happening in the United States today, in our judicial system, in the loss of civil liberties. I thought there’s something in this group of people who are trying to think together of how do we undo systematic violence in our lives.

And Miki didn’t want to just be interviewed by herself about this community. She went to the community, and she’s joined by three other people, Selene, Emma and Verene.

So, let’s tune in for the first part of this interview, with is essentially an answer to a simple question of what is the NGL community and how they start to go about answering that question. Let’s start there.

The Nonviolent Global Liberation community

Miki: I can start by saying that what the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community is, it’s a simple question, and we don’t have a simple answer. We are at a period of discovering, that it’s actually quite difficult to get it clear to people what we are doing. Maybe it is the metaphor that I imagine everyone who listens to this program knows, which is the one about the babies in the water. And who’s, you know, taking babies out of the water? And then somebody goes up stream, like let’s stop babies from being thrown into the water. Do you know that metaphor? You’re familiar with it, I imagine.

And what we are doing is we are going further upstream, above where they’re throwing babies in the water, to connect with source and vision and see what’s possible to create there before the distortions that lead to throwing babies into the water. And we try to function in ways that are as aligned with vision as possible, that are as nonviolent as possible, as global as possible, and focused on liberation.

Experiments with truth is in our purpose. So, it’s a very, very condensed effort that is completely within nonviolence. And yet, it is very difficult to speak about because of the fact that what we are doing is experimental. We’re not trying to change anything that is happening already in the world. We’re trying to create pockets of meaning of what could be. I’m curious if that makes sense, and if my friends and colleagues could add something to this.

Verene: For me, another image that seems to have traction when I speak about the work that we’re doing – and it’s come from another member of NGL, a colleague called Kevin Dancelme – is that the paradigm of violence that is underpinning so much of human life, of course creating so much destruction, puts us in a kind of trance that makes us be very reactive and lose many of our capacities as humans. In particular, for discernment, for wise action, and of course for compassion and care.

And the problem with this trance is it’s very difficult to see that we are in it. And the work that we’re doing in NGL is through various practices and experiments and also an intellectual pursuit, to see how we can individually and collectively exit the trance so that we can regain the capacity – the capacities that we have as humans to creatively tackle difficult situations. And we know that we have this capacity, but because we are so imprisoned in this trance of the domination and violent model, it’s become almost beyond capacity to be able to recognize what we can do instead of what we’re doing.

Selene: I’d like to just briefly add a little more concretely. I’m imagining that people will still be wondering what it is that we do.

So, I want to say that we work in teams, where teams hold different aspects of what the community needs. We have an apprenticeship program where people are learning. Some of us go out into the world bringing the framework to organizations or communities. We also are exploring people beginning to form like intentional live-in communities, where we might actually be living together within these frameworks.

So, there’s a lot of tangible things that we’re doing. I think also less tangibly there’s, like, personal integration, into my own understanding as well as my own, like, resilience, to bring nonviolence in difficult moments.

And some of that resilience training comes just from being in a meeting and doing a project together. And, you know, conflict happening and how do we co-hold that together. And so, those are some examples of some of the tangible things that we’re doing.

Emma: Just add one other thing. Something else we’re engaging with is a lot of systemic learning and understanding what are the roots of violence, where it comes from, what it looks like, how it manifests both systemically and within us. And using that knowledge as an entryway to understand what it is that we want, rather than what we don’t want. And then building systems from there and doing inner work in relation to that to disentangle ourselves from current structures and create a basis for being able to actually function within a different type of structure that’s more life aligned.

Miki: The original impetus was two-fold. One was, I was working on an article and I got to understand, through working on that article, much more what the climate crisis is and how existential things are.

The other is that I had known about Mary Parker Follett for a long time, but I hadn’t actually investigated her. And for that article that I was working on, I read a lot of what she wrote, and I was shocked to see how much things that I was doing, creating, discovering, talking about, she already did 100 years before, and I didn’t even know.

And then I was connected to the way that women disappear from history. And I understood that if I don’t do something very strong and potent, I would also disappear from history. And that the strategy that I had been employing until then, which was to write, so it’s available, everything that I’ve discovered and investigated and researched, writing. That doesn’t work because she wrote, but her books had almost disappeared.

And I understood then that some of the reason why women disappear from history is that women are less likely to have a body of people engaging with their body of work, studying it, implementing it, learning it, expanding on it, and taking it forward, than if the work comes initially through a man. And so, I was very deliberately thinking I want to create a group of people that I can pass on everything I’ve learned so that when I die, they can continue the work.

And we are now close to five years later, and we are closer to the group being able to outlive – for the work to be able to outlive me. But we’re not quite there yet, so it’s very deep work to do this. But that was the impetus, is to bring a set of insights, and tools, and a framework, and an understanding of what it means to be human, and how we lost it.

And this also is connected to why some of our deepest experiments is at a very material level of resource flow. Because the understanding that I have about how we got here is through losing trust in life in response to calamities, either extreme natural calamities or invasions or stuff like that. And that that is the origin of patriarchy, which is what got us here.

We don’t think of patriarchy as being about men or about gender or anything like this, but more a relationship to life and biology and negation of life, lack of trust in life. And kind of like a hubris attempt to control life, to know, to predict, to mold it. To eliminate death, whereby you create more death. So, it’s a very deep exploration.

But that leads us to aim, to restore the maternal gift economy, which is a term coined by Genevieve Vaughan. And that means we are doing a tremendous amount of experimentation with gift economy. And doing the individualizing, the exchange, the accumulation as much as we’re capable of doing. And we gather and distribute resources every four months. Money resources because all of us still live in a market economy.

But how we gather resources and how we distribute it – we distribute them, is completely related to needs and to willingness, not to who did what and how much is it worth. It’s how much do people who are doing the work need? And how much is available, and how do we distribute it most optimally?

The conversations of the relationships and everything to do with the material plane of resources is extremely demanding to undo and change. That’s where the domination thinking is, in my mind, most deeply lodged. So, that is one of the experiments with truth that we’re doing, which is how far can we go to the vision given that we all carry this inside?

It’s not about just changing structures if we don’t also change whatever is happening in how we relate to the structures, then we end up recreating the old structures.

 

Stephanie: That was Miki Kashtan and her coworkers and colleagues, Selene, Emma, and Verene at the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community, NGL, talking about what the impetus for joining NGL has been for them and what they’re doing and how it relates to experimenting with nonviolence.

NGL’s experiments with truth

And so, I asked them if we could go deeper on this idea of the experiments in nonviolence, especially for each one of them, what are they working on? What is their experiment? What is most alive for each of them? So, let’s hear from them.

Verene: I took part in an event this past weekend where I live in Scotland. And there were a number of talks that were given by people about different topics. And one thing that is alive is how I am digesting the fact that the talks that I listened to on various topics from the environmental justice movement, to how to tackle loneliness in cities. How to give a future to independent journalism, and other topics that I can’t quite remember now.

It’s like how to help people to, first of all, transform the sense of profound stuck-ness and hopelessness that I was definitely hearing and what people were sharing. And connected to that, there was also the sense of burnout, a profound tiredness in people that previously I would have seen as very active and connected and full of energy. And this time, because I go there to this event regularly once a year. And this year, I was really struck by the loss of energy and the immense fatigue that people were displaying and talking about.

And so, what’s alive is, first of all, what is mine to do? When I think about nonviolence, and we were discussing earlier within an NGL event, what is ours to do to bring nonviolence in the world, to contribute to awakening consciousness amongst people that we think still have a bit of energy and resourcefulness in them, in the world. To give them a sense that stepping into a vision and stepping into inquiring into truth, for example, could be a resource that is very precious for them, or could be precious for the work that they’re doing.

And so, how do I want to approach those people? How do I want to resource them? What frame I’m going to be able to pull from all the experiments we’re doing within NGL to support their particular work. So, that’s one of the things, one of the threads of aliveness in me right now in this moment.

Emma: We ask what do we do and yet, we didn’t know. The culture is we aren’t a collection. We aren’t we. We’re a collection of individuals that are leading our own lives, living in some sense of comfort of what do we actually want? How many people who have that sense would actually be willing to change the material existence of their lives for that change to exist? Because of how the systems of the world work, the luxuries that many of us live within can only exist because of the suffering of others.

And for things to actually change, they need to change. Which means things that we’re familiar with, are comfortable, that are dear to us, need to shift from the material basis of our lives, to our relationships. And it can kind of be easier to see, I think, how the material basis might need to change because it’s like visible to us. But there are also ways in which we stay in relationships that are not actually aligned with purpose.

So, like Verene was saying, “What is mine to do?” It may be that stepping onto a path of nonviolence, and choosing to integrate that into your life, means that there are other people around who are not going to take that path and are not aligned with it and may be very resistant to it.

And then there’s a choice to make about how to actually orient those people in our lives, how to maintain those relationships, while also maintaining purpose when stepping into a life of meaning and purpose and nonviolence. It takes a lot of energy because it’s completely against the grain of the culture. So, we need all the support of community that is aligned with us that we can get.

Miki: I think you were going to talk about what you were doing with your family, and I think it fits there completely.

Emma: About a decade ago, I was going home to my family and I realized that I was afraid to go home because of growing up with my dad, and he would drink, and it was just a lot. I just grew up in a lot of fear around him. And I realized – I remember being out in the car driving along this road and just having this fear in me, and I just had this thought, “This is ridiculous.” Like, I don’t want to go home and have this fear.

Miki: I just want to editorialize for a moment because I think moment, that thought is suddenly seeing a possibility where before you were stuck. Just having the question or the thought or seeing – I’m following a path that has been laid out for me that is familiar, and now I’m choosing not to. That shift is pivotal. Each one of us has it somewhere on the path of embracing nonviolence.

Like suddenly realizing that what I have been doing up until now isn’t going to get me where I want to go. It’s not working. And that’s what I’m hearing in that moment.

Emma: Yeah. So, this year, maybe it’s like eight to ten years later. I’ve been doing a lot of work within myself with – yeah, with NVC, with learning about the systemic nature of what I’m carrying, where it’s come from, what my family are carrying, where that’s come from. Just building a lot of capacity for compassion within me and the capacity to zoom out and see this inane – the systematic and the experiential.

And I’ve done a bit of work with my mom. I talked to my sister. Just to try and like free this up and get the communication to actually start flowing between them again. And he was like really delighted, really ecstatic, just that I open this door, and I was able to like be with him with his upbringing and how that had affected him and how because of that it made sense that he was actually acting as he was.

So, I really like releasing him from any shame and judgment of himself. He didn’t have the capacity to hold that within himself, like to not be judgmental towards himself, but I’m able to hold that for him now because of the work that I’ve been doing. And yeah, it’s working. I’m basically facilitating my sister and my dad, taking steps toward each other and kind of guiding them.

Miki: The reason why this works is because it functions at a level of systemic analysis and individual tenderness. There’s no blame. So, there’s room for everyone to move. And this is one of the ways that we function, and we talk about it as untwisting the field. That we live in distortions and in a twisted field. And we try to untwist it by bringing a perspective of togetherness, to where there’s separation of empowerment and choice, to where there’s powerlessness, and flow to where there’s scarcity. Those are kind of like the three moves that parallel the untwisting of the field from what patriarchy and all that has happened since has done to us. So, it has applications at every level, from the most internal to the most local.

Michael: And you know, one of the many, many reasons that I left the university is trying to bring this kind of thinking to my colleagues in political science. They said, “No, no. You cannot apply individual dynamics to the international scene. It’s completely different.”

I knew that the new era would be defined by people who have this kind of insights and not by the people who are – to use your word, Miki, stuck, in these safe sounding paradigms that don’t resolve anything.

Miki: Thank you for seeing that.

Stephanie: For those of you just tuning in, you’re here at Nonviolence Radio. I’m Stephanie Van Hook. My co-host is here with me, Michael Nagler.

So, here on Nonviolence Radio today, we’re sharing an interview with friends from the Nonviolence Global Liberation Community, Miki, Emma, Verene, and Selene, talking about their experiments in truth and why they’re approaching nonviolence from a systematic analysis as with Miki said, an individual tenderness, a commitment to experiments in nonviolence, and how they’re doing it. It’s a very interesting approach to the big challenges that we’re facing in the world today, to say, how do we really bring nonviolence to a systematic practice?

And so, their interview is providing so many insights. In the next aspect of this is how they’re learning to live together and build communities. And so, let’s hear from Miki now on what’s alive for her about building living community.

Living the experiment

Miki: So, the piece that I want to talk about is our living experiment. So, Emma and I live with two other people. We have been vagabonding different ones of us in different configurations for several years now. And we’re really tired of it. We’re really hoping that we will find some respite and some longer-term – and eventually, our plan is to get a piece of land.

We have figured out a scheme. We haven’t tested it yet, but we have figured out a scheme for where we could actually take it off the market by making it de facto unsellable, even if legally it theoretically could be sold. And I don’t need to get into the details, but we are very consciously trying to recreate the commons in a new form.

And until then, what we are experimenting with is basically countering every last bit of how we are told we are supposed to live at this time. So, for example, we have no private life. Everything that each of us does, that’s part of the joking about transparency at the beginning. NGL as a whole is not as intense as we are. But within our pod, there’s no private life.

Everything that each of us does is completely open to everyone else. So, it’s like the question, “What were you just thinking?” is not impolite, it’s an invitation to intimacy. We bring all our decisions to each other. And on the material plane, we’re sharing all our resources. That doesn’t happen without difficulty.

It pushes us to discover all the places where each of us is stuck in different ways. And we – the level of the learning curve is immense. So, for example, one of the things is we do not function by fairness at all, on purpose. Because fairness is not attuned to needs. So, for example, cooking is not divided equally. It’s thought through based on who has the willingness, who has the capacity, and where are the needs?

For example, I’m doing writing of all the things that we’re learning and many other things. And it is a collective priority for me to write. So, I mostly don’t do any of the physical work. Almost none. We have a visitor now, a long-term visitor from India. She’s with us for about two months. And in India, where she lived, she was basically forced to cook. So, she’s not cooking. To get her to experience the freedom of not having to. And we are starting to do like little experiments on the edge of what would it be like for her to be part of a cooking team, just to see, can she actually find her way to cooking, willingly, not from have to.

Because if she can’t, then it doesn’t make sense for her to cook then, we leave her not cooking for a longer time until the freedom is actually there. So, our goal is to find the actual physical reboot of the maternal gift economy in how we live.

Selene was with us, you know, for part of the time. We were on and off together for many months. She called what we are doing, “Mutual mothering.” Which really stuck. It’s an amazing term because we are orienting to each other’s needs. Not to concepts of who did what. And if somebody is doing more than they’re willing, then they bring it back. And if no one is willing to do something, then we have a problem. But no one is ever forced.

So, we are also rethinking completely questions such as sexuality, and what does it mean to question the paradigm of sexuality? And we don’t go for like free sex and all of these things which is what most people think about when they think about questioning sexuality, but rather to questioning the foundation of desire and whether we even know how to have intimacy without sexuality, and what does that mean about how we engage sexually?

So, we each have different agreements about where we are in terms of sexual engagement, which is not significant to get into. But all of it is based on liberation and thinking collaboratively and together. So, eventually – this is where I will hand it over to Selene. We are envisioning ourselves as part of a network of such communities globally, starting to build the seeds of a global gift economy. With that, I will pass it to Selene.

Selene: Did you want to say something before I start?

Michael: Another one of my quick little phrases. I hope you won’t mind, but it really sounds to me like you’re reinventing socialism, in a sense. Taking the best out of it and humanizing it, regrounding socialism on a human level, not just on a material level.

Miki: That is very, very satisfying to hear you this because just last week I wrote a little piece that is going to be part of a longer article that will be posted. The article is called, “Why capitalism cannot be redeemed.” And the last part of it is literally integrating from capitalism and from communism, saying, what the picture that I have is like capitalism in this way and unlike capitalism in this other way. It’s like communism in this way and unlike communism in another way. It’s an integrated approach that, as far as I can tell, has not yet happened since the patriarchy occurred but was the way that our ancestors lived. And still, the Iroquois democracy still functions on those principles. Yeah. Thanks for noticing that. Yeah.

One key to it is that no one decides for anyone else. And communism is very poor at that. In capitalism, it’s great to a point. But the idea that somebody will decide for you either what your need is or what your capacity and willingness and ability are, that is when it  becomes problematic.

A vision for the Communities

Selene: I think it’s been said a couple of times, but one of the questions that we ask in NGL is what is mine to do? And I think it’s really clear to me that what is mine to do is to make what we’re doing as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. And my dream is to see multiple of these communities blossoming around the world.

So, it’s like how do we take these nonviolence practices and invite people into living them with the people that they live with at various areas, various parts and the spectrum between where we currently are and what the vision is, within willingness and within capacity. And so, I think that is kind of one of the experiments we’ve just started engaging with is, you know, harvesting from what we’re currently doing and have done and sharing that with each other.

So, I think, that you didn’t say, Miki, that I want to get across that we’re talking about, is we call it a home pod. But that we want to get outside of the kind of normative structure for romantic home relationships. You know, where the home is like, you know, two parents and 2.5 kids or something.

And that we’re having intimate relationships with more people that we actually live with and that are in our homes, and they’re not necessarily romantic relationships. And that we’re exploring that. I think the other element of what we do in NGL and a big part of Miki’s work that hasn’t been named yet is the orientation towards support and seeking support.

So, I think part of why we can do what we’ve been talking about is because we have a foundation of co-holding each other and supporting each other.

And so, we’re seeing the home pod as a place to get support to do our nonviolence work out in the world. To come home and rejuvenate and restore our batteries. So, we want to continue that support orientation so that we’re not only living in a home pod or only living in one community, but that we have a community of communities and that we’re flowing support in different forms from one home pod to another across what we imagine eventually to be a global network.

And that support could be conflict support, for example, where one home pod is co-holding another home pod’s conflict. And it could also be learning support where maybe one home pod has really anchored in the way that they live their daily life, some of the nonviolent – like one of the nonviolence practices that we ask people to do. And they may then send two community members to go and live for some time with another home pod to support them in anchoring that practice, and vice versa.

So, when I think about how to make this way of life accessible, you know, I’m thinking about your question earlier, Stephanie, about like what do we do, how do we respond to the stuckness? I think about creating an alternative. Like, I don’t want to struggle against the system as it is.

I want to create an alternative that’s so juicy that that’s what people want to do. And coming and living in a home pod where there’s intimacy and interdependence and, you know, non-coercion is actually how people are living. Like it’s so nourishing that I think will speak for itself in its powerful ability to transform.

So, when we think about how to actually make this accessible, I think a lot about, you know, learning a language. If I want to learn French, I can take a French class, or I can and immerse myself in France, you know? So, I’m imagining that people can come and live together or stay in these home pods and actually learn and remember how does interdependence feel and how to actually, you know, increase our resilience and live the nonviolence practices through immersion.

And it’s exponential when you’re really – when you’re living in it, and it’s the culture you’re surrounded by. A huge part of the work that we do in NGL is rooted in gift economy, in noncoercion and people offering their labor and their services and their gifts as a gift, without expectation, and also attending to needs without requiring something in return.

So, it’s not only in how we relate to each other and how we relate to shared work, but also financially. And we do interface with capitalism. So, part of the dream for this network is to also flow financial resources from where they are to where there is need, and that might include within a pod or between pods globally.

So, it could potentially overtime become an alternative to engaging in the world as it is.

Stephanie: So, you’re at Nonviolence Radio. We’re listening to friends from the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community, discuss the foundations of the community that they’re building and why and how. That was just Selene explaining a little bit in more depth, the housing situation that they’re attempting to build, home pods.

How to get involved

And for those of you who would like to know more about getting involved NGL, Miki is going to take us through the end of the interview with this information.

Miki: Yes. People can become what we call NGL Friends with quite a bit of ease. And then gradually conceive this is a place where they want to bring their energy. And they can do that by going to our website, which is NGLcommunity.org. I can tell you already it’s not the best website on planet Earth. It takes some effort to find things, and there’s a lot of confusion and all of that. That’s part of not having a whole lot of resources. But with some persistence, people will find their way to join.

And there is so much richness in exploring and in contributing and in learning and all of that. So, that’s the place to do it.

Stephanie: That was Miki Kashtan with friends, Selene, Verene, and Emma from the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community, as they were calling it, NGL.

Nonviolence Report

You’re here at Nonviolence Radio, and it’s about time for a little bit of the Nonviolence Report. What’s happening in the news of nonviolence, Michael?

Michael: Oh, gosh, thank you, Stephanie. A lot is happening. But I was just ruminating over something that I wish had occurred to me when we had that interview with Miki and the others from NGL, and that is the Mondragon cooperatives that were set up in a broad belt across the region – originally the region between France and Spain. There is a pastry shop in San Rafael called Arizmendi which is named after the priest who started Mondragon. But we have had a program on Mondragon, and it’s a fascinating experiment. I’m glad to see it’s continuing.

Miki comes from a background – she briefly mentioned NVC, that’s Nonviolent Communication that was founded by Marshall Rosenberg, and is a big growth and expansion from communication to global liberation, but I think it’s an entirely appropriate one.

I really liked that Verene used the word, “Paradigm,” because shifting the paradigm is the best way to get people thinking about the big picture, without which you just flop from issue to issue, don’t achieve real growth.

And she also said – she referred to our state of hypnosis – it’s my word – by material reality, our being hypnotized by the external world, by material, as a trance. And I think that was a really good way to label it. That we to be waking up, meaning the word, “bodhi,” waking up from this trance that materialism will make us happy.

So, moving on now, I’d like to share a really remarkable development. And that is that the State Department – yes, you heard me right, that is the Department of State of the United States of America, is starting a Gandhi-King exchange program. They’re going to bring 20 talented – this is, “Talented, hard-working, young civic leaders from India and the U.S. to explore the legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.”

This was championed by the honorable, much lamented late Representative John Lewis who passed away in July [2020] and it was co-sponsored by an Indian American congressman, Ami Bera, and signed into law by now former President Donald Trump back in September.

So, that shows you, among other things – I’ll just mention one, that nonviolence is what we like to call at Metta, “A stealth force.” It doesn’t look like it’s political. It looks like it has to do with religion or how you think and feel about things, but it is, in reality, a very powerful force for change at every level, including political, economic, and so forth.

So, moving on now, an organization that we are close to, World Beyond War, they’re having a conference very soon, starting a week from today, going for two days, July 8th through 10. And that conference is called, “Resistance and Regeneration.” So, I love that as much as I love “paradigm” and “trance”.

And coming soon to a theater near you, if you are within range of this station, the Smith Rafael Theater in San Rafael is our film, The Third Harmony, that will be on July 16th, starting at 7 p.m. And this is a free – underscored – free community screening, followed by a discussion which will include myself, Stephanie, and Jim Skyler who wrote the music for The Third Harmony. I just am so happy with the way that film has gone on and on around the world, really.

Well, while I’m mentioning Metta, we also have our 30 Days of Nonviolence Challenge, which Stephanie mentioned. And it’s going to be facilitated by a good friend of ours, now living in Greece, Nina Koevoets. And Stephanie and myself will be on-hand. You can find that at our website, if you go to What’s New, then to the 30 Days of Nonviolence.

Our colleague and friend Clay Carson, Professor Clay Carson at the World House Project at Stanford, has drawn our attention to a film, which we watched with great edification and pleasure. It’s called, When I Get Grown. And this film documents the experience of one of the key participants in the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Bernard Lafayette – who also appears in our film, and in that movement which changed history. And the film itself has just won the Best Short Documentary at the 2022 Harlem International Film Festival.

And finally, or almost finally, last month for ten days which is real sticktoitiveness, environmental activists in Finland blockaded a train carrying imports of Russian oil. And they did this in order to oppose both war and the use of fossil fuels. And those two things are intimately related, as the term goes today. They are – you cannot tease them apart. You can’t have war without an enormous consumption of fossil fuels, a lot of war is fought over the access to fossil fuels.

Now, five of these people were arrested and hauled off, so I thought it might be a good idea to kind of look at this from the point-of-view of what is our checklist for how to do a nonviolent protest? So, what are the questions we would ask ourselves?

First and foremost, is this constructive program? And we would have to say it isn’t. It is obstructive program in the most literal sense imaginable, lying there obstructing a train. And that doesn’t mean that it’s out of place.

You have to undertake blockading, blocking, obstructive action, when things have going to be a beyond a certain point. Ideally, you can intervene earlier and create constructive program, the way Gandhi lighted our path with the spinning program. And if you do constructive program correctly, it will eventually make it much easier to get rid of the injustices and enter into obstructing them if you still need to.

I mean for example, with spinning, a lot of the – what shall I say, strangle hold on India that was held by the British, was that they would take off the cotton and manufacture it in Lancashire and then sell it back to Indians.

So, when you kind of took that over yourself and spun your own clothe – which wonderfully enough you could do in your household with a very simple device, which is now on the logo of the Metta Center, the spinning wheel – then, a lot of the force of the domination is already ventilated. You’ve gotten rid of it, and it’s easy to move on from there.

So, I was reminded of this feature, constructive versus obstructive when I think it was Verene who said that they’re focusing on what we want, not what we don’t want.

So, the next point on my checklist is, was this a last resort? Because if it was a protest, if it was obstructive, you want to make sure that you’ve given the opponent every opportunity to respond. And I would say, “Check.” Given the urgency of the situation, they had tried everything.

Was it risky? Next point. And absolutely. If you think of Brian Wilson and what he sacrificed by trying to block a munitions train here in the Bay Area, it was, of course, risky to the participants. Big issue for me.

Was it real as well as symbolic? And I would say, “Yes.” They actually did block an actual choo-choo train. So, it worked as well as, quote, “worked.”

And does this issue give us leverage into much larger questions? And here, again, I think it does come off looking, very, very good because, a quote again, “Finish environmental activists blockaded a train carrying imports of Russian oil to ‘oppose both war and fossil fuels.’” So, you cannot really get much deeper into the system, the structure that our friends from Nonviolent Global Liberation were just talking about.

Kind of hard not to say something about Ukraine these days, even though there isn’t an awful lot of nonviolence that’s still visible there or maybe not being reported to us. The Russian troops have been forced to withdraw from a particular area, Snake Island. And that shows that, again, Russia has had to cede ground.

And Boris Johnson of the UK said – this is the point I really wanted to emphasize, “In the end it will prove impossible for Putin to hold down a country that will not accept occupation.” So, this is a major principle in nonviolence. That in the end, you cannot force your will on an individual or a group that will not go along with you. You can practice persuasion if you can – if you have a good enough case. But not coercion.

So, I think that’s a very good note for us to wrap up this episode. Stephanie?

Stephanie: Thanks so much, Michael, for that report, and it’s important to know what’s happening out there. I want to thank our mother station, KWMR, for making this show possible. To our guests today from the Nonviolent Global Liberation Community, Miki, Selene, Emma, and Verene. Want to thank Matt Watrous, Annie Hewitt, Bryan Farrell who all help get this show syndicated out there to all of our listeners at our syndication sites including the Pacifica Network. Thank you so much for sharing the show and getting involved.

And to everybody out there, until the next time, please take care of one another.