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Old 05-27-2004, 03:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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If We Listen Well

If We Listen Well
By Edward Guinan

For too long we have considered peace as the absence of conflict. We have approached the issue wit this limited perspective and have directed our attention to the prevailing conflict of the moment, attempting to discover ways of reducing the destructiveness of the event. This approach is both necessary and desirable, but insufficient as we continue to approach the problem in a fragmented and isolated way. We continue to deal in symptomatic terms as if war and destruction and violence are the extensions and natural outgrowths of malignant attitudes, values, relationships, and beliefs that we continue to embrace.
Conflict will always be an integral part of human life but our methods of dealing with it need to change.
We must be willing to develop and ongoing critical view of our values, operating premises and relationships, and a sensitivity to those about us.
Peace demands that one anticipate the effects of his views and actions on others and the unifying or destructive effects they may have. Most importantly one comes to realize that the "end" does not justify the "means": we get what we do, not what we hope for or intend. You cannot improve a man through punishment, nor can you bring peace through war or brotherhood through brutalization.

Finally one comes to appreciate the reality that there can be not "we's" and "they's" in our lives but only brothers and sisters - all children of God - all sacred and dignified. Destruction of any one t=of these God-gifts means a certain destruction of oneself, and a mystery that is gone forever from this small, fragile world.

Violence can be seen as destructive communication. Any adequate definition must include physical, verbal, symbolic, psychological and spiritual displays of hostility and hatred. The definition must include both our acts and our inactions and that which is done directly to people or indirectly to them through what they esteem. Many forms will take on a combination of these characteristics.
Violence should then include physical acts against another (i.e., the range of acts from personal attack to war which violate human autonomy and integrity); verbal attacks that demean and humiliate; symbolic acts that evoke fear and hostility; psychological attitudes that deny one's humanity and equality (legal, institutional, and moral); spiritual postures that communicate racism, inferiority, and worthlessness (i.e., beliefs and values that demean or categorize). Violence then becomes a dynamic rather than merely an act.

Hunger, poverty, squalor, privilege, powerlessness, riches, despair, and vicarious living are forms of violence - forms that a society approves and perpetuates. We have been too willing to discuss violence in terms of ghetto uprisings, student unrest, street thievery, and trashing, and have been unwilling to direct our attention to the more pathological types of violence that are acceptable - the types that daily crush the humanity and life from untold millions of brothers and sisters.

In the sixties we spoke with alarm of the "increase of violence" in our society, which may have been a half-truth; violence became more democratic in the decade of the sixties. Instead of resting exclusively with those who construct and maintain ghettos, keep food from the mouths of children, and coerce the young through educational programming and into war, violence became the tool of a widely divergent group seeking equality, power and redress.

Under the umbrella of violence there reside two distinctively different phenomena. First, there is the violence of men and women who act out of frustration, hopelessness and anger in an attempted grasp at life - the act of the slave breaking the chains, which is understandable and inevitable as long as some humans are in bondage. The other type of violence is the violence of the respectable, the violence of the powerful that seeks personal gain and privilege by maintaining inhuman conditions. It is the violence of the board rooms, legislators and jurists - the white collar violence that puts surplus milk down sewers, robs workers of their wages, maintains prisons of infamy, lies to children, discards the weak and old, and insist that some should half-live while others rape and ravage the earth. This latter type of violence is what we must become aware of and actively dismantle if the future is to hold any possibilities for peace and a world where all men and women have a right to live and develop and participate by reason of their humanity, not by reason of their class, productive ability or shrewdness.

Nonviolence cannot then be understood as passivity or indifference to the dynamic of life (i.e., communication between men). It is not the posture of removing oneself from conflict that marks the truly nonviolent man, but, quite on the contrary, it is placing oneself at the heart of that dynamic. Nonviolence means taking the responsibility for aiding the direction of human communication and brotherhood. Nonviolence means an active opposition to those acts and attitudes that demean and brutalize another and it means an active support of those values and expressions that foster human solidarity. Nonviolence, in essence, means taking a stand in favor of life and refusing to delegate individual moral responsibility to another person or group; it means taking control of one's life and aiding others in doing likewise. Nonviolence is an attempt to find truth and love even in the midst of hatred, destruction and pride.
As the means cannot be separated from the desired ends, nonviolence cannot be separated from peace, for it is the value system and dynamic that makes peace possible.

The Times
The past has not be given to us; it is not ours to breathe or exhale. We live with the smallest perimeter, which we call today, and into this brief moment, into this small space we beckon and command the future. These are not good times, but good times do not mold great people. The sins of our excesses and arrogance can destroy us, or these failings can humble us to sainthood. Such are the times. If the great virtues and teachings of the martyrs, resisters, and saints are relegated to a utopian or future-oriented condition, then indeed, they have little value for us at all. But the great heritage that this "community of liberation" has left us is not some unreal, impossible dream. It is this: Love can, and must, be lived today, despite the pain and difficulty of such life. Tomorrow will carry the tenderness and peace which we live now. Do not compromise today. It is all, dear brothers and sisters, that we have. This assembled community of peacemakers has paid dearly for their belief in such words and their lives form a chronicle of inspiration. They have been demeaned and laughed at; they have been dragged through jails and courtrooms and prisons; a few have paid the price of peace with their lives.
The Themes and People
The first signs of a violent society appear in its basic inability to communicate. Words lose their meaning and become hollow. They are twisted and deformed as tools of manipulation and servitude. Noble words such as truth, goodness, and love may come to mean despotism, obedience and death. Peace becomes another name for multiheaded war missiles, and nonviolence is wrenched to mean silence, or lack of opposition, to thievery, privilege and the status quo.
The Spiritual
A line from a contemporary song pleads" "Help me make it through the night." We find our existence framed in terms of aloneness rather than solidarity, struggles rather than consummations; departures rather than arrivals, questions rather than answers, and most importantly, night rather than daylight.
We cry out for fear the night will absorb us, yet we are unsure of any presence; we sing so as not to be crushed, yet the tones reflect the endless chant of the nightingales; we dance so as not to fall prey to these awesome interludes of emptiness; and most of all we pray so as not to lie. And these are the words we may use: "Help us make it through the night." Yet in the aloneness and struggle, in the departures and questions, in the cries and songs, in the dances and prayers there are imprints of heroic men and women, there are weavings of beauty, there are caresses of God. Traced through the faces of the old are messages of dignity and tenderness. The wail of the newborn is proof of silent breaths conspiring together. Each "forgive me" and "I love you" is prefaced by the warm tides of grace. Saints are born in Harlem in precise rhythm. Young people hurdle concrete mazes to touch and remember. Children weep for lost birds. Monks and mystics pray the sun up in the morning and call the evening dew. There are still wonderment, wishes and dreams.

You must never forget that you are the brother or the sister of a carpenter and the child of a king. You must remember that all life is unfulfilled without you. You must learn that life is mysterious and sacred and that you must never, never destroy it. And if you listen well you will hear the chanting of others, and they are singing to you: "Help us make it through the night."

Edward Guinan is a Paulist priest and founder of the Community for Creative Nonviolence in Washington, D.C.
big text and orther emphasis done by me v3d4

Last edited by veda; 01-21-2008 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 05-27-2004, 03:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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you expect me to read that?
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Old 05-27-2004, 03:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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naw, just read the big text parts
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Old 05-27-2004, 03:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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v3d4notes for the philosophically challenged?

"Bullshit. You're a white suburban punk, just like me."
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Old 05-27-2004, 04:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally posted by ajg2425
Whats all this shit about/for anyway?
thats a good question. this is about how you and me can change the world for the better
this is about getting wasted in public without fear
this is about victory over evil

421der, that was cute im just planting seeds
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Old 05-27-2004, 06:33 PM   #6 (permalink)
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violence is good need some its the cyle of life... violence makes the world turn........ mother nature is violeant shit the whole world is........ get with it........violence stops the world stops
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Old 05-28-2004, 11:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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a lot of people believe that all of nature is violent,
but thats just not true

animals are not as violent as some people think - unless the term "violence" includes killing to eat. Organized group violence and aggression are rare in other species, and the aggression that does exist is typically a function of the environment in which animals find themselves.
altering animals' environment, or the way they are reared, can have a profound impact on the level of aggression found in virtually all species. animals cooperate both within and among species far more than many of us assume on the basis of watching nature documentaries.

looking at human history, its true that wars have been fought, but the fact that they seem to dominate our history says more about how history is presented than about what actually happened.

many hunter-gatherer societies are entirely peaceful. And the cultures that are "closer to nature" would be expected to be the most warlike if violence is really such a big part of nature. but the opposite is true.

even if a given behavior is universal, you cant automatically say its part of our biological nature. all known cultures may produce pottery, but that does not mean that there is a gene for pottery-making.

according to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is one of the most warlike societies on the planet, having intervened militarily around the world more than 200 times since 1850. "People in a highly warlike society are likely to overestimate the propensity toward war in human nature," says Donald Greenberg, a sociologist at the University of Missouri.

"In order to justify, accept, and live with war, we have created a psychology that makes it inevitable," says Dr. Bernard Lown, co-chairman of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which received the Nobel peace Prize in 1985. "It is a rationalization for accepting violence as a system of resolving human conflict."

the belief that violence in unavoidable is an excuse people use to justify their own acts of violence by suggesting that they have little choice.

but we do have a choice.
c'mon, let's choose good over evil!
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Old 05-28-2004, 04:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I just read what was in big letters. It all stems from fear. It's a good read and sometime I'll have to read the rest.

As long as there are people who believe that violence is necessary, then it is. The world doesn't stop... as above, so below... it only changes.... To this---->

Come on people now, smile on your brother... everybody get together try to love one another right now.
"Why is it that when people talk to God, we call it praying but when God talks to people, we call it crazy?"- Touched by an Angel
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