New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Archive for the ‘Michael N. Nagler’

Libya: Acid Test for Nonviolence?

March 28, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Michael N. Nagler, Politics

Practicing Peace Before Wars Break Out

by Michael N. Nagler

The nonviolent revolution in Egypt has spread across the Mideast, but unfortunately in many other countries, particularly Libya, “revolution” was picked up without “nonviolent.” I have been asked whether there is anything that nonviolence could nonetheless do in the face of the bloodbath that is going on before our eyes in that country. There is, but I would like to consider not one but two questions: what can we do now (which is very little), and what could we be doing if we lived in a more nonviolence-aware world. As we will see, the two questions fold together at one point.

Libya’s convulsion once again caught the “international community” (it’s more like an international schoolyard) flat-footed. Open warfare broke out very quickly, and the scale and stage of the violence are extreme. Yet there is still a way to respond that, while extremely difficult to pull off, could be called nonviolent. (more…)

Death in Tucson, Life in America

January 11, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Michael N. Nagler, Politics

Democracy and Humanity in the Balance

by Michael N. Nagler

The night after Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot, I happened to be officiating at a celebration for the career of a close friend of mine who has devoted his life to the search for nonviolence and peace. There were nearly 200 of us from a great variety of organizations, all of which had stories about nonviolent actions and projects they had done that actually worked.

I must confess that when the shock of grief has worn off after an event like this horrific shooting, I hear myself asking my fellow Americans, in some exasperation: how long do you want this to go on?

Happily, this time things were a little bit different, in one respect. For the first time that I am aware, there was in almost all the commentaries the hint of an apparently forbidden truth: that we bring violence on ourselves when we promote it, glorify it, or legitimize it — as in this case by the extreme rhetoric associated with Sarah Palin and the Tea Party, among others.

Let us by all means seize on that hint. It is exactly right that when goaded into violence by our words or thoughts, we — and not just a few deranged killers — get that much closer to ‘losing it’ and acting out some form of destruction in real life. Massive scientific evidence confirms this connection, which is anyway obvious if you know anything about human nature. What we think, we eventually do; in particular, when we think righteous hatred, we will do vile things that are unworthy of our humanity. (more…)