What is Nonviolence?


Nonviolence is a way of life that allows us to remain compassionate and connected to others even within a violent society or circumstances. It is a way of life that allows us to remain powerful and non-submissive in the face of violence, yet to hold all parties in the conflict in our hearts, refusing to cultivate hate and separation. Nonviolence recognizes that violent acts are committed by people when their deep human needs are unmet. Though we may condemn the violent act as unacceptable, we are able to identify with the human need that spurred the act, as we share that same need as human beings. Nonviolence includes a set of skills and tools that we can learn and practice. Just like any other practice, it takes time, patience and allot of self-love and forgiveness for the times that we “fall” into the same old patterns.  Nonviolent action has been underlying some of the most important resistance movements of the last century, such as the Civil Rights movement in the USA (Martin Luther King), Gandhi’s Indian Independence movement, and more.


Exercise for Facilitators: What does Violence mean for you? What does Nonviolence mean for you? Do you believe it is possible to take a stand against violence, without being violent ourselves (including hate, shaming and blaming, retaliating, seeking revenge, etc.)? What qualities would it require of us in order for that to be possible?


“When we understand the needs that motivate our own and others behavior, we have no enemies.”

–Marshall Rosenberg, creator of the NVC language

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