“Starting with nonviolence”–Daily Metta

gandhi-21September 7:

“All of our problems have to be solved nonviolently.”

–Gandhi (Harijan, April 30, 1938)

Almost as an afterthought, but no less powerful for that, Gandhi points out that the schools of his conception, Nai Talim, would, not surprisingly, teach nonviolence to its pupils. As seriously as the schools of Mussolini and Hitler took violence as a fundamental principle, he maintained, his schools would draw upon the principle of nonviolence. In other words, his schools would begin with the assumption that nonviolence works and it is something we can learn and in which we can — and must — train ourselves. This applied to working out interpersonal problems within the schools, but not that alone. “Our arithmetic, our science, our history will have a nonviolent approach, and the problems in these subjects will be coloured by nonviolence.” Could you imagine a word problem in mathematics where you are trying to solve the challenge of equal distribution of food or a science lesson exploring the fundamental unity of life in the heart of an equally stunning and awe-inspiring diversity? And then, after lunch, a history class reconsidering and improving upon nonviolent campaigns of the past?

Why should such an education be a dream alone? All educational systems have a purpose, but what should it be? To achieve what ends in society? More violence or more nonviolence? What would happen if we were all to opt for the latter? Something really beautiful.  Fast-forward to 2008, when UN Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury made the following remarks in an important publication from the Center for Peace Education, “Peace Education: A Pathway to a Culture of Peace,”

“As Maria Montessori had articulated so appropriately, those who want a  violent way of living, prepare young people for that; but those, who want peace have neglected their young children and adolescents and that way are unable to organize them for peace. However, the last decades of violence and human insecurity had led to a growing realization in the world of education today that children should be educated in the art of peaceful living. As a result, more and more peace concepts, attitudes, values and social skills are being integrated into school curricula in many countries. It is being increasingly realized that over-emphasis on cognitive learning in schools at the cost of developing children’s emotional, social, moral and humanistic aspects has been a costly mistake.”

Experiment in Nonviolence:

How was nonviolence taught about where you went to school? At what point did you realize that nonviolence was something you could learn?