- Respectful understanding. When you are genuinely sensitive to, and respectful of others’ individual uniqueness, you become more likely to love them. One cannot learn to understand others unless s/he listens to them with no other intention than understanding him or her. If you are talking, you are not listening. If you are talking to another with whom you disagree, talking about your own point of view rarely changes anyone’s thoughts…unless s/he feels respected.
- Truthfully sharing your emotions, thoughts, ideas and opinions. After you have understood another, only then can you practice Satyagraha. Gandhi writes, “Satyagraha is gentle, it never wounds. It must not be the result of anger or malice. It is never fussy, never impatient, never vociferous. It is the direct opposite of compulsion. It was conceived as a complete substitute for violence. The reformer [peacemaker] must have consciousness of the truth of his cause. He will not be impatient with the opponent, he will be impatient with himself.” Peacemakers always remain open and receptive of feedback.
- Engaging in “active non-violence.” Words are never as powerful as actions. Peace on any level is never attained by violent action. Violent actions invite violent reactions. Gandhi believed in “the oneness of humanity and the wrongness of violence.” His idea of forgiveness was: “You detest the deed, not the doer.” Distinguish between another’s actions and who they are as human beings. “Always love for the Adversary.” When you are in conflict, you must engage in active non-violence [civil disobedience] because: “the effectiveness of non-violence makes violence as a mode of effectively creating peaceful outcomes irrelevant. The right actions make the structure of oppression irrelevant.”
- When one believes in non-violent actions, s/her must also be willing to suffer the reactions of others no matter the impact they have on oneself. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. studied Satyagraha and declared, “you must be willing to suffer others’ violence while always remaining oriented toward ‘the adherence to Truth.’”
- Peaceful interpersonal relationships, no matter how small or large, are born of joyful compassion. Gandhi wrote, “I seek to act more womanly [because] women are the essence of compassion.” “Nonviolence, like charity, begins at home.” “I learnt the lesson of nonviolence from my wife, when I tried to bend her over to my will. Her determined resistance to my will, on the one hand, and her quiet submission to the suffering on the other, ultimately made me ashamed of myself and cured me of my stupidity. She became my teacher in nonviolence.”
Peacemaker, Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote, “If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.”
Lloyd Thomas, Ph.D. is a longstanding member of the Fort Collins Rotary Club, a licensed psychologist and a life coach. Contact him if you would like to receive his newsletters. He can be reached through email: DrLloyd@CreatingLeaders.com