THE TUG OF WAR (read time 5:09 min)
If I were to guess I would say that war and violence began as a survival instinct when we all still lived in our lovely condo caves. If you could eavesdrop on the some of the earliest conversations of humans they may go something like this: “If you steal my bananas I will kill you!” “If you even think of taking a flame from my fire I will kill you.” “If you step one foot into my lovely condo cave I will kill you!’ “If you even look at my hairy stinky wife I will kill you!” “Drop The Club! Or I will kill you!” “This is my land. If you step one foot on it I will kill you!” “I went to the mountain top and spoke to God. If you don’t believe in MY God I will kill you!”
According to my psychologist friends there’s plenty of data and research to absolutely prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that humans are “hardwired” for violence. And like it or not, we will always and forever resort to violence. And the best we can do is continue to counter it with more, better and different methods violence to help soften the situation. But what do they know?
THE RECURRING CASE FOR NON-VIOLENCE
His followers would protest: “Jesus Christ! Are you crazy? The Romans are killing our children and torturing our families! They’re even coming after you! And you want us to turn the other cheek and respond with love? Are you crazy Lord?”
Jesus replied: “I say to you, offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. If a man takes your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him.” ( Matt. 5:39-41).
The followers of Mahatma Gandhi would say the exact same thing: “Babaji! Are you crazy? The British are the most powerful nation on earth! They kill our children and torture our families! They’re even coming after you! And you want us to turn the other cheek and respond with love? Are you crazy Bapu?”
Gandhi replied: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent. Hate the sin, love the sinner.”
The followers of Martin Luther King would say the exact same thing: “Oh Reverend King! The whites are the most powerful race on earth! They kill our children and torture our families! They’re even coming after you! And you want us to turn the other cheek and respond with love? Are you crazy man?”
MLK replied: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Today something has changed in the world. The energy has shifted. You know exactly what I mean. Perhaps that 100th monkey has picked up the ball and run with it. There’s now plenty of evidence to show that a few of the more intelligent and sophisticated powers that rule the world are beginning to look very closely at new and more contemporary non-violent methods of winning, dominating, occupying, ruling and conquering each other, without blowing up that which they want to possess.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that humans have the desire to compete, dominate and conquer. The time for that 100th monkey to deliver the message of total global cooperation has not yet arrived. However, I do believe that the possibility of “the final days of violent war as we know it” is an idea who’s time has come—as “WE” used to say.
The vow is very simple: “I take the vow of non-violence; in my speech, my thoughts and my actions.” The goal is to get 100,000,000 people to take the vow. You can take the vow at: www.itakethevow.com.
On February 1, 2009 (my mom’s birthday) I took the vow.
What’s most fascinating to me is the resistance I’m getting from people when I ask them if they’ll take the vow. One psychologist friend insists that humans are “hardwired” for violence and that will never change. Therefore she refused to take the vow. My Christian and Jewish friends say that when rockets are fired at your family you must bomb their family in self-defense. Another friend said, “Well, when I take a vow I never break it. Therefore I don’t want to take a vow that I may not be able to keep! (Oh yeah, right, what about your divorce!) Then there’s my favorite: “What if a big bad bogie man was raping my wife and slaughtering my family? Do you expect me to just stand by and tell the monster that he won’t get any resistance from me because I took a vow of non-violence ? Sorry Michael, I’m not taking your vow!”
I believe that a vow of non-violence is far and away distinct from physical survival or self-defense. Some of my heroes did what others would consider violent actions. But I believe they were taking advantage of a “teaching opportunity” rather then consciously breaking their commitment to peace:
I believe that a vow of non-violence is a place to come from, a powerful stand, a way of life. Yes, if the boogie man was going after my wife Nancy you can be sure I’d bust him over the head with a lamp—but only after all attempts at negotiation failed.
Even Gandhi says,: “We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.”
So are you willing to take the vow of non-violence? If not, why not? What are your thoughts on “The final days of violent war as we know it? ” Do you believe that we are “hardwired” for violence and that will never change?
I look forward to your comments.
Peace & Love, Michael
|Posted By Robert Cooke|
| stew in it |
You’ve managed to pull off another mind-bending, angst-ridden blog that has me stopped in my tracks. The truth is, after reading your article, then watching the Chopra video, I still remain undecided as to whether or not I’ll take the vow. Let me stew in it for awhile.
|Posted By Sarah McMullen|
| reek of annihilation |
A Vow Against Violence as it Pertains to War About 15 years ago I walked into the Midnight Hour bookstore on the 3rd Street promenade in Santa Monica. I was drawn to a book with a medieval tapestry image on the cover and it was titled “Into a Dark Woods Wandering,” by Hella Haasse translated from Dutch to English decades after Haasse died. It turned out to be the first of many historical books I would read – almost all of them involving war and violence. Let’s face it: you really can’t delve into any chapter in history without finding wars, battles, random acts of violence, revenge, political acts of violence etc. etc. So, here I am in the middle of the Battle of Agincourt and the Hundred Years War between France and England and I am completely fascinated. From Agincourt, in no particular order, I have been to Alesia, Actium, the Highlands, Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Normandy, and Iwo Jima, to name a few. From ancient to medieval to modern, I continue to be intrigued with history, and I have to admit that the battles, the weapons and the warfare utterly draw me in as if I were there. The only problem is that I COULD NEVER DO IT. It is inconceivable to me to imagine actually handling a longbow, a saber, a bayonet, a grenade or a sword in one hand with a big shield in the other, entwined in hand to hand combat. So, on that level I can definitely take the vow against violence. I’m reading “American Creation” by Joseph Ellis, which focuses on pivotal moments in our young nation during and after the American Revolution. The sheer reality that thirteen colonies (with ultimate help from the French) won an eight- year war against the most powerful nation on earth, enthralls me. So, if I had been alive in the last quarter of the 18th century, I would not have taken a vow against violence as it pertains to war. It’s shocking to realize that just 78 years later we would turn that violence on each other in some of the bloodiest battles in history. If I could turn back time as it pertains to war, I would surely have taken a vow against violence. I would have also taken a vow to watch the post-war zealots more closely. And I would have broken my vow against violence to throw John Wilkes Booth over the balcony before he had a chance to commit his tragic act of violence. Naturally I’m thinking about Lincoln now, as we honor his 200th birthday. And I would not have taken a vow against violence as it pertains to World War II. Could there be a term “necessary violence” if you are fighting demonic dictators? I dare say all of our founding fathers and revered historical figures would be shaking their heads at the current acts of violence as they pertain to war. The implications of modern warfare are SCARY. They reek of annihilation. I would take a huge vow against violence if the other guys would. I would try to replace “necessary violence” with superhuman attempts at negotiation (sorry Cheney). We could save lives. We could save money. WE could save land, air, seas. WE could get out of the woods. We might even be able to save our souls.
|Posted By Danny Nashville|
| unnecessary harm |
I take the pledge. I am striving for nonviolence toward others and no unnecessary harm to animals. I’ve just given up dairy to go with my longtime unwillingness to eat commercially processed meat. As for people, defense of self and others is excluded. I found the opening paragraphs of this piece to have some relevance to your latest piece. Kant’s Categorical Imperative is essentially the Golden Rule.
|Posted By Dave Sturges|
| 100th monkey |
I took the vow. I may not be the 100th monkey but at least I can help carry the flag up the hill.
|Posted By Jeanne Montrose|
| No Vow! |
I will not take that vow. We must stand strong and fight aggression, fight injustice and fight for what we believe is right.
|Posted By Michael Mollura|
| very real fears |
It’s funny I expected to see some blog about the music business and instead it was a series of philosophical contemplations on the nature of existence. You have always been a huge inspiration for me and certainly have played a big role in my current journey towards attaining my Ph.D. in psychology. Subjects like this one in your blog on non-violence are what we are trying to tag in our studies. Yes, it’s true there are many psychologists who contend that we are hardwired for violence. Adler’s view of the psyche is that the Ego pushes behavior towards aggression. But then there’s Carl Jung (my new Guru these days) who suggests that the soul has and always will be moving towards individuation and wholeness. As long as man continues to remain chained to the ego-consciousness he will be needing to bow to the will to power. I agree with you that there is a paradigm shift in the works and that is the work I am up to while I go for my Ph.D. It’s really about changing the myth of the country and the world and shifting the conditioning process. It is happening, but it does take every one of us to create the change. It begins with all of us being part of a collective consciousness and looking out for another. These are strange times indeed. Fortunately, consciousness — love — light — and being of service — is a way of moving past the very real fears of what it means for all of us to be on this planet wondering who might try to put out or steal our fires. With that there is Baba telling us, “the fire burns within which can not be stolen or ever put out.” I have taken the vows of non-violence and have lived up to it in every possible way. I hope others do the same.
|Posted By Jeff|
| immediate reaction |
Fascinating blog cuz As a recent victim of my own violent crime I’m not taking the vow now. The blog was very thought provoking and my immediate reaction was hell ya, I’m in ! But, I want to able to make that promise to god ;-) and I will when I’m ready, maybe my moms b-day !!
|Posted By Val|
| Would love to take the vow |
Hi Michael. I would love to take the vow, however, if it came down to self defense or defending the physical safety of my family, I would without any doubt, use violence. SORRY. Love, Val
|Posted By Patti|
| Lightworkers |
I read your blog “The TUG of war and The Recurring case for Non-Violence” on Feb. 13th, then on Feb. 15th I received my monthly Lightworker’s Letter and it mirrors exactly what you are blogging! Far-fr’%*-out my wise ole’ friend. You say: “For the first time in the history of humans we may now be at the crossroads of a real paradigm shift in our evolutionary DNA because the notion of non-violence may finally be at our doorstep.” They say: “Your journey has taken you to a time and space which has brought you to a critical junction. Your evolutionary path has placed blinders over your eyes causing you to walk around bumping into one another. Now the blinders are starting to come off—you are finding that you are god…The magic now begins because as this takes place, humanity will begin to form a united Earth” Also, they announce that there is going to be a Lightworker’s Event coming to Big Bear Lake, California.
|Posted By Daveed|
| The vow |
The vow is for non violence ( not against violence as phrased in some of the comments, there is an immense difference in the phrasing since being against will actually allow it to persist. What is important to understand is that in taking the vow for non violence it is the intention that is paramount.