Tag Archives: human nature

UN International Day of Non Violence

The UN International Day of Non Violence is on October 2nd, to coincide with Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. Gandhi was born on October 2nd, 1869, and this year, we will be commemorating his 146th birth anniversary. Non Violence is one of Asha’s key values, and I have been thinking a lot about it these days. During my 27 years at Asha, I have witnessed violence in many shapes and forms, from physical violence, to the violent effects of power structures oppressing and harassing the poor, systems, large and small, that incorporate prejudice and exploitation. I began to put to the test the philosophy of non violence from Asha’s very early beginnings, as I dealt with the oppressive and unjust systems on a daily basis.

The Asha communities have received great enlightenment and joy through the practice of non violence that has become a moral imperative, a way of life. It is a weapon available to all of us, and is a wonderful technique for resolving conflicts and achieving desired ends. The goal of non violence is not to defeat the opponents, but to win them over. This then does not alienate our opponents, and in fact, leaves open the possibility of conversion.

In my experience, we invite violence from opponents if they are humiliated or provoked. We are here to fight the antagonism, not the antagonist. Therefore personal sincerity in our interactions that foster trust, can break the cycle of violence and counter violence.

There can be the great temptation to self-righteousness and an unwillingness to see the other’s point of view. Efforts to try and understand the opponents’ motivations, and the lens with which they view the world can affirm their worth as well as their capacity for growth. This can also challenge them to examine their values and beliefs. This way, the oppressed and the oppressor are both liberated. A strong sense of the inherent dignity and worth of each individual brings us closer to an understanding of our shared humanity.

Non violence rejects passivity and submission, and is not an attempt to ignore or avoid conflict or oppression. In fact, it requires a great deal of courage and strength.

Gandhian non violence, termed ‘Satyagraha’, aims to attain the truth through love and right action. It demands the elimination of violence from the self, as well as from the social, political, and economic environment. The end result hoped for is a peaceful and just society.

In closing, for those who might be pessimistic about the ability of non violence to resolve conflicts, I ask, Have you tried? I have, hundreds in the Asha communities have, and it works beautifully. Would you like to consider celebrating October 2nd as Non Violence Day?

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On Non-Judgementalism

Dear friends,

In this letter, I wish to express my views on non-judgementalism. It is one of Asha’s key values and informs all the areas of our work. While it is in human nature to be judgemental, it is mostly never useful. Our judgement can be based on someone’s looks or actions, without knowing the person. We might see something they do, and get angry or disappointed. This approach will create divisions rather than build bridges. Instead, we can try to understand the person, imagining their background, and finding out their backstory, their motivations, the lens with which they view the world. Perhaps there were circumstances that might have led to the person acting or looking like they do. They might have different needs, different dreams.

Dr Martin in DAB  23 Sept 2011 008

Once we begin to understand the person, we can accept them for who they are. With acceptance comes the ability to love the person. As we begin to feel what they are going through, we create opportunities for transformation of the person as well as of ourselves. We begin to build bridges with old or young, light skinned or dark, tall or short, male or female, rich or poor. We see the commonalities between us, despite our differences.

We will then notice that people will treat us better. There will be a growing satisfaction in ourselves, a belief in ourselves, and a trust in ourselves. We will be much happier, those around us will be much happier, and the community we live in will be a much better place.

The practice of this approach by the Asha family over the years has demonstrated that it is powerful, transformative and life changing for all, finding warmth, goodwill, and friendship in the most unlikely of places.

With my very best wishes.

Kiran Martin

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