Metta Centre for Nonviolence

Asha Buch
07-02-2022

Gandhi’s life and work made remarkable impact on great number of individuals as well as institutions in the modern era. Seeds of Truth and Nonviolence spread far and wide throughout the globe. Here I would like to share the information of work carried out by The Metta Center for Nonviolence.

Metta Center for Nonviolence is situated at Petaluma, California, USA, EARTH

For those who may wish to find more information, here is the link : https://www.mettacenter.org

Founder and president of the Metta Center Dr. Michael Nagler’s teacher who lived in India during Gandhiji’s time was deeply affected by his principle of nonviolence. Michael Nagler wanted to preserve his teacher’s legacy, and the Metta Center was born. The following perception of nonviolence is a driving force behind the Metta Center.

“Nonviolence is more than putting another person in power. It’s about awakening a different kind of power in people."

— Dr. Michael Nagler - President, Founder

The Metta Center for Nonviolence is applying this ideology through its various activities and publications which has earned them a Special Consultative Status at the United Nations via ECOSOC.

Nonviolence works; it’s for us to learn how.

The board of directors and the team members carry this firm belief while they encourage people in all walks of life to discover their innate capacity for practicing nonviolence and to cultivate its power for the long-term transformation of themselves and the world in order to eliminate root causes of dehumanisation and ultimately all forms of violence.

The Center has three main ways to plant the seeds of truth and nonviolence. The first is Nonviolence Radio, which explores the power of nonviolence featuring interviews to inspire and support people to take action in their own domain. The second resource is the Nonviolence Report in which they collect news and updates from the world of nonviolence, offer point of clarity and analysis for those who may wish to put it to good use. The third source is a book or daily email of inspirational thought of Gandhi to those who sign up for it.

A bookstore contains a board game titled Cosmic Peace force, a book of daily inspirational thought from Gandhi, two books written by Michael Nagler and one book for children by Stephanie Van Hook. The latest addition to this treasure is the book with video, ‘Hate is too heavier a burden to bear’, new book, titled ‘Gandhi’s wisdom’, a twelve week family curriculum for nonviolence and an animated short film, ‘An Urgent message for Humanity’ (a story of climate).

Faith in humanity drives us towards nonviolence. The team at Metta Center believe that Nonviolence begins inside of each one of us, and is the greatest power of our human nature. Individuals can bring about positive change with or without large groups. Everyone has a role to play. This is Person Power. Use it in Satyagraha. The term breaks down into two parts: Satya-Truth, agraha - Hold Fast to. This is Truth-force or Love-force. We resist injustice without reproducing it. We obstruct hatred and violence with a firmness rooted in love.

Dr. Michael Nagler - Nonviolence Scholar, professor Emeritus, author of The Search for a Nonviolent Future and The Third Harmony and directer of the film ‘Third Harmony. (it is available via Vimeo on https://www.mettacenter.org  or http://mettacenter.org/thirdharmony).

He explained the idea of three harmony. The ancient sage Shankaracharya believed there are three sources of suffering - from the environment, from other people and from within ourself. Dr. Michael Nagler’s teacher gave a notion of three harmony: 1) With our world, 2) With other beings and most importantly 3) harmony within ourselves (a starting point).

To achieve the first part of harmony 5 steps are recommended.

1) Avoid violent media. Alternatives are available.

2) Learn nonviolence

3) Take up a spiritual practice such as meditation

4) Try to relate personally wherever possible

5) Find where your skills meet the world’s needs and find a project to work on.

Michael Nagler suggests, nonviolence can be practiced individually in our daily interaction, but don’t stop there. We have institutions, which can help us put it in practice. At a national level apply to seek restorative justice to repay the harm done by violators of law. Internationally we have civilian peace maker teams, join them.

I would like to relay the message from the short film ‘The Third Harmony’ which is captivating. (all the quotes, descriptions and images are taken from the film commissioned by the Metta Center)

Ali Abu Awad - (Palestinian Nonviolence activist, and founder of Taghyeer)

He says,  “Nonviolence is to bring the best out of you, not by solving problems, but by living with other human being. My brother was killed violently by Israeli soldiers. One year later my mother received a phone call from a religious Israeli father who wanted to meet us. His son was kidnapped and killed by Hamas. This incident happened in 1972. I saw first time an Israeli crying. Both mothers were crying with same colour of tears. Justice is when we give up being victim of the victimisers and not being the prisoners of hatred.”

Ken Butigan - (Strategist for Peace e Bene Nonviolence Service and Professor of Peace, Justice & Conflict Studies)

He explained the process of non-violent act. There are two hands of nonviolence; one hand is saying, ‘I will not cooperate with your act of injustice.’ The other hand is saying. ‘I respect you as a human being (therefore will not harm you)’. This is a job description of 21st century. He also described his experience of the power of nonviolence. A group of activists laid themselves down on the ground at Lawrence Livermore national laboratory experimental test site in protest of nuclear tests. Police asked them to move, they did not cooperate. One police constable tugged and pulled Ken Butigan’s arm. A senior officer told him to break his wrist which the police constable began to do. Suddenly Ken said to him, “You don’t have to do that.” He let go of Ken. They talked for half an hour and the police constable said, “Thank you for telling me ‘You don’t have to break my wrist.’ I didn’t want to. I follow orders, but you broke the spell. This shows what is possible by a nonviolent act.

Tiffany Eastom - (Executive director of Nonviolence Peace force)

She stated that mankind has fought wars with sticks and stones and moved on to use rifles, automatic guns and missiles. Peace force have different tools. Nonviolence as a method of resolving conflict is underestimated and underrated, but it can have transformative effect. They have trained 450 women peace leaders, 3786 people have received training as unarmed civilians protection team and 2419 women have formed 66 women’s protection teams. This is an applaudable achievement in the midst of senseless armament race.

David Hartsough - (Co-founder of Nonviolence Peace Force & World Beyond War and author of Waging Peace)

He described an event he was involved in 1960’s state of Virginia. Students protested against the Drug Store’s policy of not to serve lunch to biracial groups of students. People spat at the nonviolent protesters, called them names and put burning cigarette down their shirts. When David was meditating on ‘Loving your enemy’, a guy came from behind, asked him to leave in two seconds or he would stab him. David said, “Friend, do what you think is right, I still love you.” That man’s jaw dropped, hands shook and left the store. At the end of the nonviolent campaign, religious and community leaders promised to open the doors of drug stores to serve lunch to students of all racial background. This was the power of nonviolence. David realised we have power to make and change history.

After watching the film we may realised that Nonviolent campaigns are becoming more frequent., Take an example of  nonviolent movements in Philippines, Sahara, South Africa, Khartoum, Sudan etc; because they become more effective over the time. It seems vey few people have faith in nonviolence  and therefore the world is ridden with inter and intra national and local conflicts. The Third Harmony documentary film explains you can be assertive without being aggressive.

United Nations is looking into creating an unarmed civilian peace making force. Mel Duncan - Co-founder of Nonviolence Peace Force urged the US appropriations Committee to include unarmed civilian protection as a recommended activity within state born actions and budget for it in 2020. This is a huge step towards recognising nonviolent tactics as a mainstream strategy for peace keeping.

If ever in doubt about an ordinary citizen’s ability to combat aggression via nonviolent means, remember what Gandhi said, “I have not a shadow of a doubt that any human being can do what I have done.”

Congresswoman Pramila Jaypal endorsed her opinion, “It is patriotic to fight for peace, to de-militarise and make our nation nuclear free. Economic and domestic security is real national security. Governments have been spending billions of dollars to get violence science right for 400 years, now is the time to invest in alternatives. We have seen nonviolent acts can make significant changes, what are we waiting for?”

Michael Nagler explains that the aim of Metta Center is to help people to practice nonviolence more safely and effectively and build a culture so that people can understand what nonviolence is. Gandhi said, “Nonviolence is as old as hills.” He gave local habitation to that concept and gave a name, ‘Ahimsa’. Ancient India had a term ‘Ahimsa’ which means absence of intention to harm. Really what it means that it is a creative power generated when you control any intention to harm. Around 1920 this term was translated in English as ‘Nonviolence’. In Latin we had a word for violence, but not for  nonviolence! That is why we have overlooked the act of violence for so many centuries.

Michael Nagler summed up by saying, “I and others believe that not only nonviolence is a natural endowment for the human being, but it is The defining endowment for the human being.”

“….for hatred does not cease by hatred at any time, Hatred ceases by Love. This is an unalterable law.”

— Buddha

e.mail : [email protected]

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / Features