Nobody is born nonviolent

World without Wars and without Violence aims to develop a worldwide commitment to nonviolence as a methodology of action, as a social system and as a lifestyle. Its objective is to achieve a world free of wars as well as physical, economic, racial, religious, sexual, psychological, ecological and moral violence. “Human beings are historical beings whose mode of social action changes their own nature” (Silo). This is the root of both our responsibility and our freedom. And it opens our future.

Nobody is born violent... Or nonviolent for that matter. So Gandhi's "Be the change you want to see in the world" is a great invitation to get rid of the rubbish this violent system has fed us and transform ourselves into the intentional beings that can create the world we all want. See the
Active Nonviolence Training (ANVT) exercises. World without Wars and without Violence international site is on

Thursday, 8 September 2011

ANVT 10 - Discrimination

This work is designed as a seminar to be carried out by a group of people. However its elements can be applied informally during any kind of conversation in which we can all become more aware of issues related to discrimination. Two of the exercises appeared in earlier postings but their inclusion here is due to their direct relevance to the issue at hand.

Jane Elliot, a teacher in the USA, the day after Martin Luther King’s assassination decided to continue his work by creating an experience of discrimination in her class. She started by telling children with brown eyes that they were better than the children with blue eyes.  The blue-eyed were excluded from games and eating together with the brown-eyed.  On the second day she reversed the roles and sure enough it was the brown-eyed children who were excluded.  On the third day she explained that there were no differences and that she had done this as an experiment to give them an experience of what it is like to be discriminated against.
Twenty years later the now grown-up subjects were filmed stating how important that experience had been for them, to learn about how not to discriminate.  One of the most important conclusions was that Jane proved that children performed at their worst on the day that they were discriminated against, dispelling in this way the myths created by so-called “scientific research” about differences in IQ in various ethnic groups.
- Consider the following riddle:
A man and his son are run over in a car accident.  The father dies at the scene and the son is rushed to hospital for life-saving surgery.  The surgeon arrives at the operating theatre and says “I cannot operate on this child, he is my son”.
How can this be? (See i)
- From whose book does this extract come?
“We put down briefly in Khartoum, where we changed to an Ethiopian Airways flight to Addis.  Here I experienced a rather strange sensation.  As I was boarding the plane I saw that the pilot was black.  I had never seen a black pilot before, and the instant I did I had to quell my panic.  How could a black man fly a plane?  But a moment later I caught myself: I had fallen into the…. mind-set, thinking Africans were inferior and that flying was a white man’s job.  I sat back in my seat, and chided myself for such thoughts……” (See ii)

1.      Write a list of characteristics that you have which you sometimes feel are the source of discrimination:
2.      With internal honesty, write a list of characteristics that others have which you are prejudiced against. (reading is optional!)
3.      Write down a short list of events in which you were either the victim or the agent in any form of discrimination
4.      Group discussion, interchange of experiences and words of advice from the group to each member based on positive experiences of how others have managed to overcome situations of discrimination.
5.      Meditation on the principle (From Humanise the Earth, by Silo):
“It does not matter in which faction events have placed you what matters is for you to comprehend that you have not chosen any faction”.
6.      Plan for the week with the aim of being more pro-active when realising that someone else is being discriminated against.
i. The surgeon is the mother 
ii. Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom

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