Sharing the Sandbox: a call for non-violence

by Stephen Longfellow Fiske

Us humans have a hard time building bridges across our differences. This is the main impediment we face in building a world of peace and sustainability. We find ourselves intrenched emotionally, psychologically, religiously, politically and economically in such a deeply embedded polarized position that we can’t see outside it.
We demonize, stigmatize and marginalize others who don’t think like us, look like us, behave in ways we approve of; and we create walls and islands of separateness.
Historically, we derived from tribes and established territory, cultures and language differences. We have fought over territory, resources, racial, ethnic and cultural difference and ideologies; this has been the norm.
We have created certain primal assumptions that overrule our better and kinder human nature. One of these assumptions is that violence is the way to resolve our conflicts.
Violence only begets violence. Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Nelson Mandela and many others have shown an alternate way to the way of violence. Non-violence is the road less taken. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict tears at our heartstrings, there seems to be no end to the violence and no meaningful result and no real solution in sight. The road less taken is the one that has not been given a chance.
We must look to those and learn from those great teachers who have shown us the better way. We must give non-violence a chance. In this twenty-first century we must re-think and reinvent the way in which we live together and we must make violence obsolete. I don’t believe for a moment that human beings are born violent or that it is an inherent characteristic of human nature. I think we learn to hate, to fight, to be violent to each other.
Human beings have the capacity to adapt, adjust and to change. We have the capacity to grow in consciousness; we can learn a new way. Haven’t we seen enough violence in this world? Let us look to those strategies of non-violence that have historically been effective in creating change for the better. This better way is not an easier way, especially when it comes to reinventing who we are.
Non-violence is based in love, restraint of reactivity, recognizing the dignity of all human beings and honoring the sacredness of life.
Non-violence is beneficent, generous, kind, serviceful, forgiving, and caring for all sentient beings and doing no harm to any life form or life support system. Isn’t this what we want for our world?
In the end, we must learn to share the sandbox; we are like children fighting over toys and space in the same playground we share. We are one planet, one people, one love, one heart. Our survival on this planet depends on it.

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