In 2017, I resolve to…


I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I am a big fan of daily resolve. Each day brings the opportunity to reflect on where we’ve been, to renew our intentions and ideals. Flowers that gently bust through concrete is an apt visual of resolve: lay down your roots, stay determined and you’ll get there eventually.

The Metta Center’s Pledge of Nonviolent Resistance offers a unique take on daily resolve. As the title implies, the pledge largely centers on resisting harmful forces with love-in-action. The word “resistance” can trigger strong reactions like fear and anger for many of us. I find it helpful to work through these energies by remembering that resisting injustices, untruths and authoritarian styles of leadership is rooted in personal-societal transformation.

We must be willing to confront, with all the courage our hearts and minds can muster, troubling realities. Without this willingness, there can be no transformation within ourselves or the communities to which we belong. Here’s another way of putting it, from Jack Kornfield: “We need to take an honest look and see what we are supporting as a society. And then we speak out truthfully, and stand up for what is wise.”

How any one of us speaks out and stands up for what is wise will of course stem from our own interests, viewpoints, dispositions, and perhaps geographical locations. But there’s no question that resisting with all our nonviolence mettle is what the times call for, whatever our circumstances. The “Build” and “Learn” parts of the Pledge incorporate the personal.

“Exclaiming your resistance, while necessary, is insufficient,” writes Charles Blow in a NYT times op-ed opposing Trump’s inauguration. “You need to augment your outrage with actions that are affirming, behaviors that reinforce principles and values.” The Pledge of Nonviolent Resistance lays out a path to constructively resist, by channeling outrage into actions that affirm life and build community.

How might you translate the Pledge so that you can carry out nonviolent resistance from wherever you may be, spiritually and otherwise? My version of the 2017 pledge looks like this:

In each day this year—and for as long as it takes—I resolve to use my creative strengths and inner capacities to:

  • investigate more deeply the violent conditioning within myself so that I can better serve as a social bridge-builder when divisions arise.
  • observe more sharply any patterns of prejudice, scapegoating and hatred within myself so that I can play a larger role in weakening our collective addiction to militarization, along with its correlating forms of violence, from the physical to the psychological.
  • develop greater compassion for all beings so that I can act more lovingly in the world, especially if/when the moment calls for obstructive strategies.
  • explore additional ways to live in good relationship with the earth so that I can participate more fully in non-exploitative means of meeting our human needs.

See the New Year’s Pledge of Nonviolent Resistance.