Tips for Bystander Intervention

This week, Nonviolence Radio welcomes Mary Hanna from Meta Peace Team, an organization that has for 28 years been dedicated to using nonviolence to de-escalate conflict, both in our everyday lives and in larger political situations. In speaking to Stephainie and Michael, Mary focuses on the remarkable power of Bystander Intervention and the creativity involved in harnassing it. Bystander Intervention, simply put, is about making sure that a person who feels threatened by another does not also feel alone: 

Here’s the thing, I think, that’s really important at the bottom line: if you’re trying to intervene as a bystander, you might not succeed. But the victim or the target is going to remember not only being targeted, but whether somebody tried to stop it. And it will feel less traumatic to somebody who knows they were not alone, who knows that somebody tried to help them, than it will if they felt abandoned to that targeting.

Bystander Intervention asks us to be active witnesses when we see someone who is vulnerable. Rather than providing a set of rigid rules to apply to any given conflict, Bystander Intervention calls on us to act creatively so as to “break that energy connection between the people who are potentially perpetrating violence, and the person that they’re trying to do that to.” This interview gives some concrete examples of just what such creativity might look like as well information for those who want more to learn more about this effective nonviolent strategy.

Transcript archived at Waging Nonviolence.

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