[Catalyst 17 - August 20, 2017] Nonviolence and Positive Social Change
By Stephen Dinan, founder and CEO of The Shift Network
The violence in Charlottesville and Barcelona, and the racial and political tensions in the United States and all over the world, are very much on the hearts and minds of all of us here at The Shift Network.
If we only look to the mainstream news, it will seem like we’ve been pinballing from one crisis to another, with no sign of hope in sight. While it is important to stay abreast of current events, it’s also critical that we take the time to look at the deeper patterns at play and to find constructive ways in which we can all engage.
In my book, Sacred America, Sacred World, I go into great detail about the need to address the shadows in the U.S. and in the world, including the historical wounds from slavery and the genocide of Indigenous people. We also must address the rebalancing of the masculine and feminine after centuries of patriarchal suppression of the feminine.
What we see taking place on the streets in the U.S. has deep roots — and President Trump’s rhetoric and actions are bringing to the surface old woundings. While it’s easy to cast blame on one political person or party, the truth is that we are all part of a larger collective and we all need to play a role in the challenging work of bringing about long-term social healing and transformation.
The good news is there are a lot of exceptional resources available to us.
As we’ve highlighted in the Summer of Peace the past six years, there’s been an exponential growth of peacebuilding “technologies” emerging around the world — from deep inner “mind-body-health” tools to interpersonal, community and international conflict transformation approaches.
The Inspiring Positive Social Change free online summit is now six weeks into an 8-week curriculum that’s providing grounded, practical insights which are proving to be incredibly timely and relevant to current events. For instance, I highly encourage you to listen to Tamara Smiley Hamilton’s interview, “Talking about Race: A Peace Perspective,” in which she lays out “Seven Blocks for Building Bridges.” Also, Dr. Donna Hicks has an exceptional interview entitled, “Dignity: Its Essential Role in Resolving Conflict.” These two interviews, as well as four more offered below for free, are part of the Rewiring the Brain for Peace series. (To register for Inspiring Positive Social Change, click here.)
This next week, Inspiring Positive Social Change will look at Nonviolence: Lessons from Gandhi and King, Where Do We Stand Today. It will feature our good friends Michael Nagler and Stephanie Van Hook from the Metta Center for Nonviolence, along with nonviolence champions Erica Chenoweth and Rev. James Lawson.
It’s imperative that we look to the practical experience of Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela and the tens of thousands of people who worked with them to address and transform seemingly insurmountable systems of social injustice through fierce love in action.
Inspiring Positive Social Change emphasizes that nonviolence is an evolving science with roots in deep, personal transformation. It all starts with our inner environment and self-mastery combined with strategic, practical ways of engaging people in compassionate actions that lead to systemic changes.
With the help of modern technology and the sharing of insights, inspiration and resources across the globe, we have the opportunity to help bring about a national and global transformation on a scale unlike any the world has ever seen.
I hope you feel the call for constructive engagement as deeply as all of us at The Shift Network do.
With that said, there is a historic moment arriving tomorrow. On August 21, America will experience an unprecedented event — a total solar eclipse that crosses the United States and no other country, traversing the nation from Oregon to South Carolina.
Almost every culture ascribes symbolic meaning to solar eclipses, ranging from fearsome breakdowns to unexpected breakthroughs.
To participate, you only need to invite friends, allies, neighbors, or fellow citizens to convene in a natural, outdoor setting for three hours of inspiration, prayer and sharing.
Our intention is to use this time to connect with our founding ideals, heal our divides, and move forward with positive actions in service to creating an upgrade to American democracy and to fostering a global community.
For Shift Philanthropy in this edition, our hearts go out to the people of Sierra Leone, West Africa, where a recent mudslide killed over 330 people. We invite you to support Young Peace Builders, a nonprofit in Sierra Leone that’s helping people affected by the mudslide.
We are continuing to highlight the Black Hills Unity Concert, which will take place in Piedmont, South Dakota, on September 8-10, 2017. We strongly encourage you to support our Indigenous brothers and sisters in this powerful initiative. Also included is an invitation to contribute to the building of the Standing Rock Playground and Basketball Court in the community where, on March 26, 2016, Oceti Sakowin Runners, guided by the prayers of their Elders, began a series of Sacred Runs to raise awareness of the grave threat posed by the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Our Featured Artist is Northern California’s Aea Luz, a gifted guitarist, songwriter and singer who calls her songs "musical soul food for medicine folk.”
Finally, we would love to hear your answer to the question, “How have Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired your life?” To share your thoughts in our Facebook Page community, click here.
The Summer of Peace is our commitment to peace in the world. This free event provides tangible skills you can apply in your daily life. Here are six recent sessions from this year’s Summer of Peace Summit, Inspiring Positive Social Change.
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Repairers of the Breach President and Senior Lecturer, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II delivers a powerful sermon to reflect the current time at the historic Riverside Church in New York City. The Riverside Church is where Dr. King preached his controversial "Beyond Vietnam" sermon 50 years ago on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his death. To watch Dr. Barber’s sermon, click here.
For more than a century, from 1900 to 2006, campaigns of nonviolent resistance were more than twice as effective as their violent counterparts in achieving their stated goals. Chenoweth and Stephan conclude that successful nonviolent resistance ushers in more durable and internally peaceful democracies, which are less likely to regress into civil war.
Maria J. Stephan
Presenting a rich, evidentiary argument, they originally and systematically compare violent and nonviolent outcomes in different historical periods and geographical contexts, debunking the myth that violence occurs because of structural and environmental factors and that it is necessary to achieve certain political goals. For more information, click here.
Given the vacuum (or worse) of any top leadership in the gravest crisis facing humanity, namely climate disruption, local leadership is springing up all over in communities, cities, and some states.
While the President, always disgracing us, pulls the U.S. out of the Paris climate accords, my home state of California will be standing right by the agreement, thank you. We’re aiming for all renewable energy sources by 2045. New York has followed suit with the “Climate and Community Protection Act,” mandating 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
For me, the great question as a Christian is: “How do we follow the nonviolent Jesus more faithfully in this culture of violence and war?” I think about this question morning, noon and night. And I always come back to the basic three steps—contemplative, active and prophetic nonviolence.
More than ever, in the age of Trump, we have to dig deeper spiritual roots and that means practicing contemplative nonviolence. We have to take time for quiet meditation with the God of peace every day, and to allow the God of peace to disarm, heal and transform us. We Christians try to read some of the Gospels daily, to sit in the presence of the nonviolent Jesus, and to learn nonviolence from the Master.
It has often been said that the road to peace runs through nonviolence. If we are to create a culture of peace then we must deal with our own violence. If we do not confront our own violence in our everyday dealings we will not be very successful in creating a culture of peace.
A short while ago I was conducting a five-session workshop entitled “Nonviolence for Daily Living.” At the end of the first session I informed the attendees that in our next session we would be focusing on our own violence. After the session ended two of the attendees informed me that since they were not violent people they felt no need to attend our next gathering.
In 2005, Vanderbilt University in Nashville honored Rev. James Lawson with its Distinguished Alumnus award and invited him to teach as a distinguished visiting professor the next academic year — 45 years after the university had expelled him for leading lunch-counter sit-ins and other civil rights protests.
Lawson — the leading American strategist of Ghandian nonviolent action, a leader of the Freedom Rides, and a close ally of Rev. Martin Luther King, and still an architect of social justice in his 80s — said he bore no grudge when he was expelled and had put the Vanderbilt controversy behind him.
Although giving him the alumni award and professorship were a significant turnaround for Vanderbilt, Lawson's own life has been a story of consistency, based on his deep religious convictions and his commitment to activism and teaching.
Yesterday, we filed a powerful brief with the courts making our case for why the pipeline should be shut down while the courts decide an appropriate path forward. In cases where an agency is found to have made such serious errors, it is typical that the action in question be halted. In this case, that means shutting down the pipeline.
The court determined that the Corps did not adequately assess the impacts to our hunting and fishing rights, nor did they take into account environmental justice. While these things are being considered, we must continue to insist that the court should vacate the easement as well as the finding of no significant impact, and vacate other approvals pending completion of a full Environmental Impact Statement.
You can read the filed brief at Earth Justice here.
Films for the Planet is extending a welcome invitation for you to join the World Peace & Global Unity Streaming Film Series in partnership with the World Peace and Global Unity (WPGU) campaign, September 9–24.
When I began the out-of-body experience of returning to “school” in January of this year to study conflict and race at the School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution, I had no idea of the wonderment of journey. At 65, I was filled with the fear of the unknown: what would it be like to be in class with my grandchildren??? Would I remember how to read academically? Could I still write a research paper? What if I am just too slow? In our senior years, the brain cells are not what they used to be.
Based on a peace campaign that began 26 years ago with a candle in the window, Rebuilding Alliance is launching the “It’s Time for Light” campaign #Itstimeforlight. We're inviting everyone to put a solar (or other) light in the window every Wednesday evening. We start with a specific focus on brightening the future of Gaza’s families, including sending solar lights to Gaza — and we hope to use #Itstimeforlight to ease tensions and help families in other parts of world in the future.
To read more and find out how you can help, click here.
Films for the Planet invites you to join the World Peace & Global Unity Streaming Film Series from September 9–24. Films include Rooted in Peace, Planetary, One Day on Earth, A Quest for Meaning, A Voice4Peace, and World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements. Ignite a film conversation in your community! Sign up here to access select films for FREE or starting at $.99 in support of the filmmaker. For more information, click here.
Join us from September 8–10 in Piedmont, South Dakota, to celebrate the fourth and final Black Hills Unity Concert. It’s free to the public, and native youth from the surrounding areas will be invited to attend a special program of traditional teachings just for them. Given today’s political environment and the challenges in the Black Hills, this coming together promises to be like no other.
There is no shortage of statistics and heartbreaking stories within native communities. However, the strength and determination of our youth became apparent for all the world to see during the months-long prayer at Standing Rock. They have decided to fight for the future of our communities and for Grandmother Earth. This year's celebration is a thank you to them, acknowledgement of the commitments made, and a prayer for the future.
Click here to watch Lyla June explain the Indigenous Rights issues behind the Black Hills Unity Concert. To support this free event with your donation, click here.
Campaign Nonviolence is a long-term grassroots movement for a culture of peace and nonviolence free from war, poverty, racism, environmental destruction and the epidemic of violence.
We invite people and organizations in the U.S. and worldwide to take action during CNV Action Week around the International Day of Peace, September 21. Together we will join our voices from around the planet to support a global nonviolent shift!
During this year’s Campaign Nonviolence Week, September 16-24, 2017 our goal is 1000+ marches, vigils, rallies and more for a culture of peace and nonviolence in cities and towns in all 50 states and in nations around the world. Together we will march against violence and for a world of peace, justice and sustainability.
This global webinar educates adults in the Connection Practice®, an efficient, scientifically-based social-emotional skill for creating a world that works for everyone. Attend this free hour-long webinar, A Simple Solution for Our Disconnected World, and learn about this powerful antidote to violence that is enriching lives around the globe. For more information, click here.
The Global Indigenous Wisdom Library is a collection of audio and video interviews featuring Indigenous leaders from around the world sharing prayers, sacred songs, prophecies, spiritual teachings and pathways to healing, as well as concrete examples for birthing a new era — one in which all members of the human family are treated with respect, understanding, compassion and justice. This sacred wisdom is important medicine for us all. The production of The Global Indigenous Wisdom Library is a gift from The Shift Network, designed to inspire, inform and involve you by highlighting the voices and important messages of Indigenous leaders from around the world. We thank all the speakers who have contributed to this body of knowledge! To learn more, click here.
Book by Stephen Dinan: Sacred America, Sacred World. Infused with visionary power, Sacred America, Sacred World is a manifesto for our country’s evolution that is both political and deeply spiritual. It offers profound hope that America can grow beyond our current challenges and manifest our noblest destiny, which the book shows is rooted in sacred principles that transcend left or right political views. To order your copy, click here.
World Peace Library. Designed for the layperson and professional peacebuilder alike, the World Peace Library has over 425 audio and video interviews with some of the most remarkable, inspiring peacebuilders in the world available to you at NO COST. You’ll find hundreds of hours of inspirational, peacebuilding, compassion-spreading talks and trainings at your fingertips with this FREE global resource. There’s no way you can’t come away from the World Peace Library deeply inspired, transformed — and part of the solution. Click here to find out how to take peace to the next level — and help co-create a global culture of peace that leaves a legacy of good for our children, our children’s children and all of humanity and life on earth.
If you would like to submit something to The Catalyst, please see the submission guidelines: click here.
• Stan Grof & Rick Tarnas 8-week course
• Sara Crow 7-week course
• Suzanne Scurlock-Durana 7-week course
• Gardening & Homesteading Skills Summit
• Robert Moss 13-week course
• Anodea Judith 7-week course
• Holly Tse 7-week course
• don Oscar Miro-Quesada 13-week course
Sierra Leone: Mudslide Relief: The tragic mudslide that occurred in Sierra Leone a few days ago is very close to our hearts. We hope you’ll join us in this fundraising effort for our friends in Freetown. Please support Young Peace Builders, a nonprofit organization, in their volunteer efforts to bring resources to the victims of the mudslide disaster in and around Freetown, Sierra Leone. (We want to thank the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding for their partnership with Young Peace Builders.) To find out more, click here.
The overarching goal of the Black Hills Unity Concert, which will take place in Piedmont, South Dakota, on September 8–10, is to return the guardianship of the Black Hills to its original caretakers, the Indigenous Peoples of the Plains.
The Black Hills Unity Concert is also a powerful networking hub and social engine that also addresses the most pressing issues of our time in addition to the Black Hills issue: language extinction, uranium contamination, water protection, youth suicide, sustainable economic development, self-sufficiency and self-determination, racial division, the protection of Indigenous women and others.
To help make this free concert available to all and support this work, please visit their crowdfunding site by clicking here.
Wakpala is the community on Standing Rock where, on March 26, 2016, Oceti Sakowin Runners, guided by the prayers of their Elders, began a series of Sacred Runs to raise awareness of the grave threat posed by the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to all members of the Human Family. Their Sacred Message, Mni Wiconi, “Water Is Life,” continues to echo everywhere on Mother Earth, with growing strength, with every passing day.
Chief Phil Lane, Jr., Chairman of Four Worlds International Institute, offers this invitation: “Join us in demonstrating our Wopila, heartfelt Thanksgiving to the Young People, Parents and Elders of Wakpala, the Standing Rock Community where the No DAPL and Mini Wiconi Movement started. These 7th Generation Leaders are the Grandchildren, the Oyate, the People of renowned Hunkpapa Warrior and Spiritual Leader, Chief Gall. Your kind contribution will build a New Playground and Basketball Court for the Wakpala Water Protectors!”
The stated mission of the Metta Center for Nonviolence is, “We encourage people in all walks of life to discover their innate capacity for nonviolence and to use its power strategically for the long-term transformation of themselves and the world, focusing on the root causes of injustice, competition, and violence. We aim to make the logic, history and yet-unexplored potential of nonviolence more accessible to activists and agents of cultural change (which ultimately includes all of us).” To find out more about and to support the Metta Center for Nonviolence and their extensive resources, click here.
Nischala Joy Devi was graced to spend over 25 years as a monastic disciple with the world renowned Yogiraj Sri Swami Satchidanandaji, receiving his direct guidance and teachings. She also was blessed with teachings from great Yoga masters in the U.S., India and worldwide.
Yoga of the Heart is a certification course offered for Yoga Teachers and Health Professionals teaching the general population who would like to share Yoga with people living with heart disease, cancer and other debilitating diseases. It is also useful for people with family histories and/or risk factors. The focus of this training program is theory and practice of asana, pranayama, deep relaxation, imagery and meditation as applied for people with cardiac, cancer, and other life threatening diseases and general health and prevention.
The Shift Network is proud to be a member of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, the institutional home for the peacebuilding community — a network of over 100 organizations working to resolve conflict and create sustainable peace in 153 countries. We strongly encourage anyone interested in peacebuilding to consider becoming a member. To discover more, click here.
Aea Luz, a gifted guitarist, songwriter and singer in Northern California, is offering a video of the title track of her new album, Grow.
Her songs, which she calls "musical soul food for medicine folk," have touched thousands of people. We hope you enjoy her song,“Grow,” which she dedicates “to the tenderness, rawness and vulnerability it takes to meet growing into our self-love, believing in ourselves, and for showing up for what we’re here to do.”
Here’s a sample lyric: "What's manifest is just a test of strength and courage for the best — to nutrify the inner eye and compost the rest"...
May Aea’s music inspire and support all of us in our journey of growth!