• Nicole Purcell

Principles of Nonviolence - How They're Used at the Institute

At the Nonviolence Institute, our work is founded on the Principles of Nonviolence. Each principle is applied in each of our departments, helping us to teach - by word and example - nonviolence as a lifestyle.

Here are the principles - and some of the ways they apply to our work!

Nonviolence Principle one is that Nonviolence is not for cowards. It is a way of life for courageous people. 

Every member of our team here at the Nonviolence Institute is expected to continually strengthen their commitment to nonviolence in their professional lives and beyond. This goes for our clients as well. Our Let’s Make This Work employment program currently employs 13 interns who are dedicating ten months of their lives to both employment and life skills training that will open doors to better opportunity. 

We know that this is a difficult journey for them, as they spend those months not only learning new things, but letting go of violence in favor of nonviolent solutions to small day-to-day conflicts as well as larger, more serious issues in their lives.   This practice is never easy and it takes COURAGE.  It could mean walking away from long held friendships or turning away from long held habits. But we know the program results in long term success, with more than 70% of past graduates holding long-term employment post-program.  

Nonviolence Principle Two is that The Beloved Community - a healthy and thriving community - is the goal of nonviolence. 

Healthy, thriving communities have four components in action at all times: they educate, they console, they celebrate and they sustain life and vibrancy. At the Institute our goal IS The Beloved Community. 

Our teams venture to develop strong relationships with community members, partners, policy makers, police departments, and schools. Every person contributes to The Beloved Community, every person is welcome in The Beloved Community. We work to understand the experiences and challenges of each individual we encounter and to give every person the tools they need to practice nonviolence with us. 

Whether it’s our Streetworker Outreach team providing mediation and conflict resolution among our most at-risk youth; or our Victim Services team providing vital resources to victims of violence and their families to stop the cycles of retaliatory violence and help people to heal – our work is focused on building better futures, and ultimately on building The Beloved Community. 

Nonviolence Principle Three is that Nonviolence Attacks the Forces of Evil, not Persons Doing Evil

Nonviolence Principle Three tells us that nonviolence attacks the forces of evil, not persons doing evil. At the Institute, we understand that the world is dark and challenging place. We understand that there are systems in place that often put many of our communities’ most vulnerable people at risk.   

That is why our Public Policy and Advocacy team works every day to challenge and reform structures in our society that make it all too easy to address problems with violence. Both physical violence and structural violence that targets at-risk communities.  

Nonviolence Principle Four is that Nonviolence holds that we should accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause. 

At the Institute, we understand that the answer to violence is NEVER violence. 

Our Victim Services team puts this principle into action with victims of violence every single day. When someone is hurt or killed in a violent incident, people often want to retaliate in an effort to seek vengeance or in an effort to alleviate their own pain. 

Our team works to understand street dynamics, people’s emotions under the most difficult circumstances, and what people need to heal from the trauma of a violent incident. By working to help victims of violence heal, we understand they suffer - but we encourage them to choose nonviolence as a response. This takes work and courage - forgiveness, amends.

Nonviolence Principle Five is that Nonviolence avoids Violence of the Spirit, as well as External Physical Violence

Nonviolence Principle Five encourages us to nurture our spiritual selves alongside our physical selves. This principle encourages that we think in nonviolent ways while we choose nonviolent behaviors and solutions.  All of us here at the Institute actively work to ensure that staff and clients pay attention to their overall well-being, nurturing our best selves every single day. 

Through Victim Services, we sponsor wellness activities for staff and clients alike. Those activities are offered alongside comprehensive wraparound services that provide counseling, assistance with healthcare and housing, and other resources that ensure continuous and focused healing in the face of difficult life experiences. 

Our Let’s Make This Work employment program offers mental health coaching for interns in the program, helping young people to navigate the ups and downs of the rigorous training program and the outside challenges they face as they venture to adopt nonviolence as a lifestyle.  

In so many ways, the Institute encourages every person we who works here – and who we work with – to nurture the best in others, to be gentle and kind with themselves – and to choose nonviolence in both in thought – and in action.  

Nonviolence Principle Six holds that the Universe is on the side of Justice

Nonviolence Principle Six tells us that the Universe is on the side of Justice.

This Principle can be difficult to hold onto sometimes. When bad things happen. When the world seems a mess. When systems seem to work against us. When life throws us challenges. 

Here at the Institute, we believe we can embody this principle by working toward justice in all things we do. We do so by assisting victims of violence to heal, by encouraging them to find peace in that healing – and not in retaliatory violence.

We do so by helping young people to find better opportunities for themselves and their families through education and employment. 

We do so by training our community in the principles of nonviolence. 

We do so by advocating for more fair and just laws that give people the best chance to contribute to our communities in productive and meaningful ways. 

Take another look at the Principles by

- or by contacting us here at the Institute: info@nonviolenceinstitute.org

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