The Personal Commitment of Nonviolence
“Being a member of the beloved community is not a selfish thing, it’s for the good of everyone, of the larger community. And the work is never over.”
These are some of the many inspiring and inspired words said at last week’s nonviolence training here at the Institute. The training, built around The Six Principles of Nonviolence and The Six Steps of Nonviolence, brought together a room full of people who work at every level of the Institute, from our Executive Director to Victim Services people and some of our Street Workers. A consistent thread that persisted throughout the training was the discussion of personal commitment and where it begins and ends. Through heated debates and lively discussions, the group came to the conclusion that the personal commitment never ends, along with an acknowledgment that this is what makes living a lifestyle of nonviolence so difficult and demanding, and so rewarding.
Personal commitment is step three of the Six Steps, and says, “This step deals with people committing themselves, and in some way strengthening themselves, for the tasks ahead...preparing yourself for a moral battle.” So, one question posed at this training was, If you are trying to achieve Principle Six, reconciliation, but the other party within the conflict is unwilling to accept your apology or truly reconcile, how does your personal commitment come into play? Our Senior Street Worker, Tarah Dorsey, described nonviolence as her way of life. She allows the Six Principles and Steps to guide all of her interactions, regardless of what is being reciprocated. Executive Director, PJ Fox, then added that if the Principles are firmly in your heart and your desire for and commitment to the beloved community is real, then you will be changed and so will your interactions. The main takeaway was that one can only be responsible for his/herself so you have to stay true to what you know is the right way of life, and hopefully, it resolves the conflict or, at least, gives you peace of mind that you have done your part.
The nonviolence training offered a deep dive into the core values that guide both the work and the daily lives of everyone here at the Institute. Practicing nonviolence is hard and a never-ending process, but if there is consensus about anything, it’s that living a nonviolent lifestyle and being part of the beloved community is worth it.