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Thursday, 27 February 2020 23:05

Nonviolence Expert Speaks to Our Chapter

Written by Marie Wren
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Marie Wren – North Bay California Chapter

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.

Nagler recommends:

  • Avoid mass media – it alienates us (go to alternative sources for news, of which he is compiling a list)
  • Learn nonviolence
  • Have a spiritual practice, which increases knowledge of self and the universe and decreases fear.
  • Tell the story of nonviolence in actions and words, where it can do the most good,
  • You were born with a role, find it, do it with the right means, and don’t be attached to the results.
North Bay-San Fancisco Chapter Affiliates and friends. Professor Nagler is 3rd from the left.

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).


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