non-violence ≠ nonviolence

On Monday evening, Mr. Kazu Haga presented about the principles of East point peace academy. He is the founder of the East Point Peace Academy. He shared the principles that East Point promotes. During the session, we learned more about the history of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of “institutionalizing and internationalizing nonviolence”. This was how the Kingian nonviolence was born. It was through the last marching words of Dr. King.

Mr. Haga walked us through the concept of Kingian nonviolence. We did an interactive activity wherein we had to share information about us to our partners and then we had to introduce our partners to the rest of the group. But here’s the twist: when introducing we must use the first person voice “I” and the audience must look at the person being introduced instead of the person talking. If we break the rules, we start from the beginning. Everyone got very excited. Three pairs went in front to do the activity and we did extremely well as a group. Then, we reflected upon the activity. Then, Mr. Haga asked us to define words that are important in peacebuilding. Eventually, he introduced us to the six principles of the Kingian nonviolence.

Here are the following things that I learned from Mr. Haga:

  1. As humans, we tend to overthink things. The meaning of violence are usually defined, and for good reasons, using all-encompassing, highly precise, profound terms. However, sometimes it helps us do our work effectively when we define violence or other complex umbrella terms such as peace in simple yet universal terms. One that says very little but means a whole lot to a lot of people.
  2. Non-violence does not mean nonviolence. The hyphen makes a huge difference.
  3. When we stay quiet after being attacked but never release our anger, that’s still violent… we’re being violent to ourselves.
  4. Vengeance does not mean justice.
  5. Conflict is neutral but the way we respond to it depends on us. It can go both ways, positive or negative. This reminded me of the “Introduction to Peacebuilding” by Professor Iyer on our first day. Professor said that as peacebuilders we must be comfortable with conflict. This way, we can effectively change the status quo.

I really loved this session. Not only because of the upbeat delivery by Mr. Haga but also because it was very inspiring to me on an individual level. Often times as peacebuilders, we are overwhelmed with structures, policies, and sad news that we forget about the inner self. The Kingian nonviolence concept really educated me about the power of nonviolence. It may take a lot of practice but I think it’s going to be worth it. As peacebuilders, we need to have enduring spirits. I think practicing nonviolence will help build that stamina.