The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.

~ Robert Baden-Powell ~

5 Ways to Nonviolence

July 5th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 37 secs

How do we deal with triggers to violence?

It won’t come as a surprise to you that I’m no fan of violence. One way or another, it always leads to tears. So I am a strong advocate of everyone having a particular range of ways to nonviolence.

Even so, I’m not going to get into a tortured argument about the rights and wrongs of violence and pacifism. Because, ultimately, such arguments rarely convince anybody to change their mind. Those who hold that violence is reasonable in certain circumstances line up on one side. While, those declaring all violence is detrimental, sidle up on the other. So, instead, I will offer some suggested ways to nonviolence that everybody can choose, whatever their views.

For starters, I take a macro view that accepts what you and I do in our life actually has impact. Why? Because people notice people. So when you take a stand and apply something with belief, others are more inclined to model it too.

So here are a few ways to nonviolence that you can apply or perhaps suggest others can follow:

  • Keep Talking Things Through If someone flatly disagrees with you, that’s the price of freedom. Yet, though it appears to be the actual flashpoint, I suspect it’s more often verbal aggression that triggers violence. Insults, berating, and comments seeking to dishonor are the emotional triggers that usually do it. At that point, unless we have a plan already in place, the potential for violence rises. Personally, I see the antagonist’s behavior as a desperate bid to drag you in. If they can bait you, they’ve got you. So why engage in such petty games when we know it’s beneath us.                                                If there’s something I especially respect in women it’s their general perspective that violence is inferior to communicating. What a tragedy so many men            don’t see that too! But, bottom line, talking our way  through to outcomes is an infinitely more effective way to happiness than inflicting harm on others.
  • Know Who You Are. I get the impression that so long as people perceive violence is a part of their behavioral repertoire, they’ll use it. But if people see it as alien to a way of behaving, they have much less reason to fall into fistfights, or some petty pushing and shoving match.
  • Exit Stage Left Give yourself permission to exit. Time out or getting out is a reasonable way of handling our innate fight or flight response. By removing ourselves from the situation, we allow the heat to die down and extinguish the bickering. Though some may feel it’s showing weakness, creating space is a sound strategy for allowing alternative outcomes.
  • Pity the Pitiful Really, someone who wants to beat you up is pitiful if not pathetic. Already, they’re in a downward spiral of harm that has no end. So pitying them lets you recognize your personal power in the situation. They won’t know it, but you’ll know they’re the ones who are failing.
  • Speak the Peace When someone is spoiling to hit you, speak words of calm and assertive peace. In the same way that Mahatma Gandhi was not weak facing up to bullets unarmed, speaking the peace takes extraordinary courage. Some may see this as foolhardy. But it’s a matter of perspective, and ultimately a matter for your own judgment.

Naturally, all the ways to nonviolence can be misconstrued and labeled naïve. But they needn’t be. Just as Quakers oppose violence as a life and death conviction, so we can choose our actions, based on our own personal beliefs. Being a complex issue, I recommend reviewing your own position and acting with conscious awareness. Anything less leaves us open to either being violent ourselves, or feeding a victim mindset that increases our vulnerability.

  1. Leonardo says:

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  2. Suzi2 says:

    A resounding here here to everything you’ve said. For sure peace starts at home and I wish others would understand that too because violents begets violence.We’ve got to find peaceful solutions if we’re going to have a future.

  3. Julie says:

    This made my day. Thanks!