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[VIDEO] Non-violence at a Time of War

August 17, 2012 | By Ana Yglesias

Thumbnail image courtesy of Angry Bear Blog

In a recent TED Talk, Scilla Elsworthy asks, "how do we deal with extreme violence without being a bully in return?" She points out that Nelson Mandela went to jail believing in violence, and then realized that using violence to fight violence does not work.

Be Fearless

Elsworthy lists three kinds of violence that bullies use :

  1. Political violence
  2. Physical violence
  3. Mental/emotional violence

Yet, despite these three kinds of violence, we can control our attitudes towards whatever type of violence we face. She sites meditation and inner-reflection as two ways to gain that "inner-power." It allows you to become calm, fearless, and confident in the face of almost anything. Just as the Nasa people have remained calm and non-violent in the face of war, we must do the same. She paints the fear as a child, and us as the adult that has to reason with the fear in order to keep it from growing powerful and over-coming us.

Be an Advocate for Peace

Elsworthy rightly states that "anger as an engine is powerful...[and] in order to develop a dialogue for change, we have to deal with our anger." This is one of the most important points she makes, for she emphasizes that we must not ignore our anger, but instead understand it and use it in a healthy, non-violent way to advocate for change. She additionally points out that we should just be anger with the thing, like a war or a bomb, not the person directing it or holding it. For example, the Nasa people are clearly angry that their people have died due to the violence inflicted on their land, yet they have remained angry at the war, not the people, and have chosen not to engage in violence, acting only in self-defense.

Once we can find compassionate for all people, we can truly understand and embrace non-violence and peace. When we do this, we can become transformational leaders. We need to "connect people with people" to create dialogues of understanding, for "we can overcome oppression by opening our hearts."

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