This principle focuses on the internal violence that can play out in conflicts, either towards others or ourselves – blame, judgement, hatred, guilt, depression, burnout and ill will, a kind of violence to our own spirit or sense of wellbeing. In a way this principle is a commitment to accompanying ourselves and reconnecting to care, including to seek support if we need it.
We explored options available to use to make sense of the world when someone says or does something that harms us:
Blame the other person, e.g. labelling them stupid, evil or something else.
Blame ourselves, e.g. believing it must have been something we did wrong or misjudged.
Recognising both our needs and theirs and feeling the emotional impact of that, responding empathically.
In my own upbringing, the focus was very much on intention and what was right and wrong, and therefore blame. It is a constant relearning to wonder and inquire what is underneath, what is the impact and what were the needs trying to be met by an action.
Within this we spent some time exploring Rage, and how it connects to Love – how it can show us what we most deeply love and want to protect…
Rage arises when we lose care and when seeking is blocked (for example if it doesn’t seem safe to ask for what we want)
When rage is blocked and we can’t go to seeking what we love, we often experience collapse, (for example depression)
We also experience rage when coming out of a ‘freeze’ immobilisation response (often through trauma)
Rage can connect us to what we most deeply love and want to protect (for example our freedom or autonomy)
Poet David Whyte suggests “Anger is the deepest form of compassion” – we can use this to find out ‘what is being loved with this force’?. When we feel ‘Angry At…’ (at someone we want to be different), we can honour that as love and transform it to ‘Angry That…’ (connecting to what we love).
To me this principle reminds me to connect to the needs underneath what is going on, to self empathy and empathy for others, to seeking support when I feel stuck in the story and judgement, and to see this internal violence as part of continuing the cycle.
Next up: Principle 6 – The universe is on the side of Justice
Beloved community is a vision of a world where all are included in the circle of care, where all needs matter. So the work in this part is to wonder about the current edges of our care, where it is not easy to see the humanity of others, and to include our own needs, to really check if we are leaving out anything of ourselves. And then to ask if we have the systems, processes, skills and support we need as a community or society…
Where are the edges of our care?
Where do we hold blame (for others or ourselves), and what might the mourning be underneath?*
How do we make sure always that our own needs are included, and check for real willingness?
How do we set up restorative systems that support us to reconnect when there is tension?
An important reminder for me came from Roxy Manning‘s sharing, that there might be situations where we need to say to people in our lives “you are still part of my community but I won’t let you harm us” – Beloved Community has to include us and our families, our own safety. I enjoyed these questions posed: When you consider the invitation to live in beloved community:
In what circumstances do you exclude yourself? What needs does this meet?
In what circumstances do you exclude others? What needs does this meet?
How would it serve you to strive to include yourself or others more in the circumstances you named?
We will have moments of ‘I just cant do it’, where needs for safety, understanding, care, rest and others are at risk, where it feels really challenging, and we need support to find the next step.
“If you are not struggling to love people, if you are not trying to build understanding with those you disagree with, then you are not really doing the work of building Beloved Community. The work of building Beloved Community is understanding that we’re not trying to win over people, but to win people over.”
Kazu Haga from ‘Healing Resistance’
It’s important for me to know that while I so want a world where all needs matter, and wish for everyone to want that too… and to know that’s not the reality, I can’t expect anyone else to, and this is part of the work.
Kingian Nonviolence has been developed from the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, and contains a depth of practice captured in six principles. My connection with it has been greatly supported by Kazu Haga’s excellent book ‘Healing Resistance’, and by the ’50 days for Peace’ course I’ve been part of through the start of this new year. Here’s a little taste of each of the six principles, (I’ll be adding one each week)…
Principle 1 : Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people
Nonviolence is not an easy path. It is beautiful and rewarding, and it can take courage to actively resist harm, to choose to step towards action when others are in harms way. Here are some questions to start that exploration…
Where do you see violence in the world? Where do you see people being harmed by actions, words, systems, decisions about where resources are directed to?
Where are there opportunities to stand not only in solidarity but as an accomplice to reduce this harm?
What scares you about standing up to violence? Where might you need support to find the courage to do this?
Where do you need to find care for yourself, stand back, trust others will be there to prevent harm when you need to rest?