On Saturday, January 11, Affiliates from the San Francisco-North Bay Chapter and their friends (19 in all) gathered at Bob and Nancy McFarland’s home to hear an inspirational talk and video by Professor Michael Nagler, followed by questions and answers. Professor Nagler, cofounder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, received an international award for promoting Gandhian Values Outside India. He has authored several books, including The Search for a Nonviolent Future, and speaks on peace and nonviolence in many venues. Founder and president of the board of the Metta Center for Non-Violence Education in Petaluma, he is a student of Sri Eknath Easwaran and also founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, where he lives.
We sat spellbound as Nagler talked about his new book, The Third Harmony: Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature, which comes out in March, to be followed by a film of the same name (see Thirdharmony.org), with coverage on social media and PBS. The first harmony is with the universe, the second with nature and the third is the harmony within us and among us as human beings.
He talked about “the old story” of human beings, which is materialistic, promotes separateness, isolation, and competition; exploits the environment, leading to climate crisis; gives rise to dictators; dominates, destroys, and leads to reaction. It’s about war and violence, poverty and scarcity. Today’s mass media news mostly deals with the old story.
The “new story” is about consciousness, humans as spiritual beings, helping others, cooperation and collaboration, interconnectedness, and the convergence of modern science and spirituality. The new story is about nonviolence as a way of life—it is the only method that can get us to a new paradigm. Violence cannot change hearts, but in the presence of nonviolence, hostility falls away.
As a group, we were very moved by his stories of how nonviolent approaches stopped violent attacks and turned people around. Two films were mentioned as related and worth seeing: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and A Hidden Life (about Franz Jägerstätter’s resistance to serving under Hitler—it is inspiring and beautiful).
Imagine the one billion Catholics worldwide insisting that the just war theory is against our religion. Not only that, we won’t allow capital punishment to be done in our name. I had that vision after Marie Dennis joined the closing session of our Cultivating Nonviolence group. She told us about the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (CNI) formed by Pax Christi, our own Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, and other Catholic organizations.
The CNI website, https://nonviolencejustpeace.net, gives information about their meetings and the workshop, 2019 Path of Nonviolence: Towards a Culture of Peace, held at the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative asks that we
A two page statement from the April 2019 meeting (PCI-CNI Statement from Path of Nonviolence workshop 2019) lists many efforts we could participate in. At the closing session of our Cultivating Nonviolence group, we committed to asking our local Catholic colleges to implement nonviolence training in their curricula, and we made or repeated the Vow of Nonviolence (https://paxchristiusa.org/resources/vow-of-nonviolence/). Join us in our New Year’s resolutions to help all to live in nonviolence.
On the 30th Anniversary of the massacre of five Jesuits and their housekeeper and her daughter at the University of Central America (UCA), we participated in the SOA Watch weekend in Columbus, GA. We were especially motivated to attend because we had participated in a Maryknoll Lay Missioner-led trip to the UCA in El Salvador and had seen where the Jesuits were brutally assassinated. SOA Watch began when it was learned that 19 graduates of the SOA, the School of the Americas at Fort Benning US Army base in Columbus, GA, were involved in the murder of the Jesuits in their UCA residences.
Though geographically dispersed, twelve dedicated folks have carved a few hours out of their busy schedules to read and talk about nonviolence this October. Half are Affiliates, and half are their friends who want to expand their thinking and nonviolent tools. Besides reading the very practical book, Personal Nonviolence, by Gerard Vanderhaar, and using on-line readings and video from JustFaith’s “Cultivating Nonviolence” module, they participate in weekly conference calls to share their insights and questions.
Campaign Nonviolence, Pace e Bene’s international campaign that works for a new culture of nonviolence free from war, poverty, racism, and environmental destruction, reported more than 3,000 actions during the September 2019 Week of Actions, including several events in Oregon (https://paceebene.org/blog/2019/9/22/2019-action-week-in-review).
In October, Robert Ellsberg of Orbis Books, featured several books on Gandhi and offered free shipping. Maryknoll Affiliates also receive a generous discount from Orbis. Some Affiliate chapters, for example in New Orleans, read inspiring books and focus their meetings on discussing them.
As we struggle to make appropriate responses to the situations in our families, in our neighborhoods, and in the world, Cultivating Nonviolence offers alternatives. Affiliates are invited to learn more online and in person about nonviolence. The Cultivating Nonviolence program was developed for JustFaith in conjunction with Maryknoll and Pax Christi. It will help us to:
The eight-week October/November session consists of:
Each week we will share our thoughts and learnings through conference calls, emails, and Facebook.
We will read key sections of the engaging book, Personal Nonviolence, A Practical Spirituality for Peacemakers, by Gerhard A. Vandehaar. Copies can be ordered through Amazon, or we will email copies of short sections.
Sept. 14 to 22 is 2019’s Week of Actions, and Campaign Nonviolence plans to have 3,000 actions around the world! Several Affiliate groups have participated in this annual effort, “working for a new culture of nonviolence free from war, racism, poverty, and environmental destruction.”
Learning, growing, transforming, and deepening ourselves and our society are signs of life.
Through my involvement with the Affiliates, I have embraced and continue deepening my identification with nonviolence. The JustFaith module, Cultivating Nonviolence, offers to us Maryknoll Affiliates a way to keep growing, cultivating.
With my highlighter in hand, I read the NSFA, marking things that especially interest me. I loved seeing the suggestion to use the Maryknoll Affiliate pillars of Spirituality, Community, Global Vision, and Action at meetings. Sr. Norie’s January article, “Norie—A Presence with Past Connections,” reminded me of an article I wrote for the February 1995 Not So Far Afield. At that time, I had given away 5,700 Presence cards by Sister Joan Metzner, MM. I was a casino floor supervisor (pit boss) at Harrah’s Casino and I gave them to any and all I thought to be receptive. I retired in 2002, but it is still my mission. I just had 2,000 more Presence cards laminated, bringing my total to around 17,000.
We received a holiday update from David Stocker who participated in the Affiliates Mission Nonviolence Conference in Oregon this fall and shared “The Art of Nonviolence” in the Nov/Dec NSFA. He tells us:
I visited Rivera Sun (another speaker at Mission Nonviolence) in Taos after the Encuentro. We shared stories, and she is a great voice for the Insurrection.
On December 11th, one of our organizers in Tucson—Alejandra, a powerful advocate for immigrants’ rights and a woman who led part of the protest at Eloy Detention Center—was ordered to be deported. We are sure her activism has made her a target of ICE. What to do if all vulnerable people are silenced?
David also thanks readers of the NSFA for their donations to the SOA Watch Puppetistas:
With your support, Puppetistas were able to present the drum making workshop in two community centers in Mexico and at three locations in the US. Our music, arts, and drums were present at the Eloy protest and at the trial in Tucson of the border guard who killed a Mexican teen six years ago. Many of the children and their parents from the Mexican schools attended our Sunday gathering where the kids were featured in song and dance.
This is groundbreaking for SOAW and I’m proud that we were a part…. Through it all kids are still kids. In this world there can be no ‘others’ because all of the children belong to all of us. It really does take a village…. Thanks.
A project of Pax Christi International, The Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, or CNI, is a global effort affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church. It grew out of the landmark Nonviolence and Just Peace Conference held in Rome in April 2016, which was co-sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Pax Christi International, and other organizations, including Maryknoll. Leaders include Ken Butigan of Pace e Bene and DePaul University, and Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International.