Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. ~ Romans 12:2
I saw a post today on the importance of teaching non-violence in schools. However, when we think of this topic, we tend to limit it to one aspect of violence which is the result of extroverted efforts to hurt others. For some of us, there becomes a subtle fear of making any kind of wave or possessing any kind of power (whether individually or on a collective level). It can create in some of us a feeling of powerlessness. In others it may create a feeling of superiority: i.e., those people are evil and violent and I’m not evil or violent so I’m good. This is a form of psychological splitting, which I’m not even saying I don’t do this, because most of us do this at some level.
If we are all split to some degree then wouldn’t the solution lie with mending the split? In order words, wouldn’t it lie with finding the middle path between abusing our power versus giving it away (or being an enabler)? Sure we can teach children not to be violent, but as a someone who was abused as a child, and pretty violently, there is a subtle message in society that kids who are victims of violence learn very well and the message is, “Violence happens, but you have to keep your mouth shut, always be good, protect your abuser, never assert or have your own power, etc.”
Thus, we start to split. If we assert power we are an abuser, if we don’t we are the victim. Also, to completely understand violence, we need to understand that some people who become violent do so because they subconsciously would rather identify with an abuser (who was seen as strong) than a victim (who was seen as weak).
Polarities and The Effects They Manifest
While it is true that the importance of nonviolence should be taught in schools or through spiritual teachings, society, etc., there is an opposite polarity that needs to be addressed too–if we are to consider the polarities in terms of power: taking or abusing power over others versus giving power away. Often, opposite polarities can serve to manifest the same fruits or consciousness that we are trying to avoid.
For example, teaching children (or adults) to focus too much on the acquisition can create the consciousness of lack. After all, it can teach us to strive externally in a way we never feel content with what we have or that we have or are enough. This, in a roundabout way, teaches lack. When it comes to what manifests from this consciousness, in trying to manifest so much abundance we inadvertently can manifest a lot of waste and depletion at the same time, not just of our own resources, time, money, and energy but of natures or whatever we need to pull from to create this “more” of something we want. This is because we have to take something or use something to get something, which a give and take process needs to be in balance or imbalance will be the result (not only do we have more excess in the world and affluence but also waste, depletion of resources, burn out, dehydration, etc.) This proves that opposite polarities, though antagonistic, can end up serving the same goal. While one polarity serves the goal to move away from, the other polarity can serve to create a behavior that may try to artificially overcompensate for the other polarity. If acted out in an extreme way, this will throw things out of balance.
The same example applies in terms of power. When we feel lacking we try to overcompensate by becoming too dominant. When we fear having too much, we overcompensate by becoming too weak. The middle point is achieving balanced power. Both becoming too dominant or becoming too submissive creates the same fruits in the greater world as our pursuits around abundance versus lack. Basically, we end up with a power dynamic where the strong are trying to overpower the weak and the weak let them. This doesn’t mean weak people have to start trying to overpower strong ones, it is just a message to keep everything in balance and to know what to let go of being an obedient servant. Right now we overprotect all that would hurt us. Meanwhile, that which we actually need and which could serve us remains largely unprotected (like nature). This is how dysfunctional families work and society has become a dysfunctional family, to a degree.
Learned Submissiveness, Learned Aggressiveness
In school our children will often be exposed to learning about wars, the positive aspects of being submissive to societal rules and constructs, how to be competitive in sports, and how to be aggressive with grades or to be the best (in other words to triumph over others).
I even remember learning in geography class about the environment. The teachers’ messages were usually something along the lines of, “well the world is on this path if nothing is done, everything will be destroyed.” Desertification and the threats of overpopulation were the topics of discussion way back then (in the 1980’s). However, none of my teachers really taught there was anything we could do. Most seemed fatalistic and one gave statistics and research how the world would likely end by 2040. This left me with the impression, “There is nothing you can do. Just be passive, go along with society, and be a good person.”
The Collective Fruits Of Our Learned Aggression and Learned Submissiveness
Notice how if you look at the world, the violent fruits of our aggressive and competitive natures versus our conformity and passivity are everywhere. For when we conform and are submissive, we give our power, money, time, taxes, purchasing power and allegiance (conscious or not) to industries, corporations, governments and etc that may not have an agenda of peace (whether they are conscious or not, for most of the world is stuck in the same mindset). In essence, we end up unconsciously serving what compromises our original goal. We give too much power away trying to be “peaceful” and the balance of power is disrupted. Power must be kept in balance or power becomes abused. Violence is all about one person trying to assert their power over another person, trying to get them to conform and to be submissive/weaker.
This is why the world is suffering from so much violence, including our environment and the violence done to it. We see extroverted violence (people with too much power abusing it) and introverted violence (people giving away power to people who abuse it). So, while extroverted violence is not the path, neither is passivity or conformity. Peaceful resistance and balancing the dualities and treading the middle path, seeing how our current path has lead to the disharmonious fruits in the world, is the path that will bring the greatest change to create more world peace.
Balanced Power Through Love, Peace, & Nonconformity
To be clear, I’m not about resisting the message of peace but reevaluating how we put it into practice. As an example, while many masters taught peace, they were also examples of non-conformity and the middle way. Many of them taught to release the world, rather than to conform with it. I think we can feel helpless but to serve the world so we instead teach (in schools, churches, etc) that to be peaceful means to be quiet, submissive, and “non-judgmental” while we go along with everything. To me, peace is an active thing and it takes work and courage.
When we are truly ready for peace, we will let go of the world a little in order to create it with more than just our minds but with our footprints.