An Opportunity for Active Nonviolence in the Middle East

29.03.2012 - London - Silvia Swinden

The propaganda war is already in full swing. The accusations and counteraccusations in the media show once again the mistrust, the anger, the fear. In the midst of the confusion some voices are heard loud and clear: this is a peaceful demonstration, we are committed to nonviolence. A ray of hope for the future, this is the way forward, this is the force that will change the world. Many may not believe in it, some may seek to vent their resentment, but those who have already seen the tremendous strength of active nonviolence, will go on growing and becoming the seeds of a new world.

The history of nonviolence goes back thousands of years, and it is not the history we learn at school. We learn much more about wars and conquerors, but it has been when human beings managed to resolve their conflicts in a nonviolent way that humanity moved ahead, materially, socially and spiritually. The Greek goddess Irina, goddess of peace, holds in her arms baby Pluto, god of wealth. Peace and Prosperity. Who would not want such ideal?

Today vested interests work to maintain conflicts, to keep them going, because there is a minority that benefits from it. But people are starting to realise that they can leap over the puppet masters and say ‘we love you’ to their supposed enemies. I can feel compassion for those who suffer the actions of ‘my’ community. We must be careful, however, when we wish to feel strong in a situation of injustice, because it is very difficult to feel compassion for those we fear, sometimes even more than for those we hate.

We live in a world where violence, whether physical, economic, psychological, racial, sexual or of any other type, has reached such degree of sophistication that it is sometimes difficult to recognise. It is not about intellectual definitions, it is a *register*, when I dehumanise another person I dehumanise myself, when I lock another in endless battle, I lock myself. Active nonviolence is something I choose, not something that *happens to me*, like when I react mechanically, generally with violence, to another person’s actions. Violence is the denial of another person’s intentionality, nonviolence humanises me in my choice and humanises ‘the other’. It opens the future for both of us.

Silo left us a ‘present’, a practice that also comes from long ago, something also good for March 30th:

‘In some moment of the day or night inhale a breath of air, and imagine that you carry this air to your heart. Then, ask with strength for yourself and for your loved ones. Ask with strength to move away from all that brings you contradiction; ask for your life to have unity. Don’t take a lot of time with this brief prayer, this brief asking, because it is enough that you interrupt for one brief moment what is happening in your life for this contact with your interior to give clarity to your feelings and your ideas.

To move away from contradiction is the same as to overcome hatred, resentment, and the desire for revenge. To move away from contradiction is to cultivate the desire to reconcile with others and with oneself. To move away from contradiction is to forgive and to make amends twice-over for every wrong that you have inflicted on others…’

Peace in the heart, Light in the understanding!

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