Saturday, May 19, 2007

Iranian Center for Applied Nonviolence

The United Arab Emirates, the confederation that includes Dubai, has become a nexus of political activity concerning Iran, as numerous governments and groups have seized on the country's location and its longstanding ties with Tehran to get a better understanding of Iran and its people. Also, at least one group run by Iranian-American opposition figures, named the Iranian Center for Applied Nonviolence, has used Dubai to train Iranians in techniques of “civil disobedience”.

About 200,000 Iranians live in Dubai, and contacts with them are considered especially useful because they are not political refugees, as in some other cities outside Iran with Iranian populations.

Iranians in Dubai have been attracted here in large part because of the city's openness and freewheeling business climate. The emirate is an important transshipment point for goods and products headed to Iran. And Iranians can use its banks and financial institutions to do business with other countries, which is harder to do in Iran thanks to trade sanctions and U.S. pressure not to do business with Iran.

Among the nongovernmental groups seizing on those links is the Iranian Center for Applied Nonviolence, which invites Iranians to workshops here to teach them how peaceful revolts in Georgia, the Philippines and elsewhere were set off. The center, led by Ramin Ahmadi, an Iranian-American opposition figure, says he holds the training sessions every three months or so on civil disobedience, hoping to foment a nonviolent revolt in Iran too. The International Center for Non-Violent Conflict, a separate organization based in Washington, helped organize one of the training sessions.

"We wanted to find a place where we were safe, where they can't send paramilitaries to gun you down, and where large numbers of Iranians go," said Ahmadi, who is a physician in the United States. "The last thing the Iranian regime will want to do is cause themselves trouble in Dubai. So it provides us with a degree of protection."
Critics of Ahmadi's work say it threatens to taint opposition figures inside Iran with appearing to cooperate with outside agitators. At least two people were imprisoned after attending one of his sessions last year

Friday, May 18, 2007

Six Principles and Six Steps of Nonviolence developed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

the 6 Principles

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

  2. Nonviolence means seeking friendship and understanding among those who are different from you.

  3. Nonviolence defeats injustice, not people.

  4. Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform people and societies.

  5. Nonviolence chooses loving solutions, not hateful ones.

  6. Nonviolence means the entire universe embraces justice.

The 6 Steps

  1. Gather Information Learn all you can about the problems you see in your community through the media, social and civic organizations, and by talking to the people involved.

  2. Educate Others Armed with your new knowledge, it is your duty to help those around you, such as your neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers, better understand the problems facing society. Build a team of people devoted to finding solutions. Be sure to include those who will be directly affected by your work.

  3. Remain Committed Accept that you will face many obstacles and challenges as you and your team try to change society. Agree to encourage and inspire one another along the journey.

  4. Peacefully Negotiate Talk with both sides. go to the people in your community who are in trouble and who are deeply hurt by society's ills. Also go to those people who are contributing to the breakdown of a peaceful society. Use humor, intelligence and grace to lead to solutions that benefit the greater good.

  5. Take Action Peacefully This step is often used when negotiation fails to produce results, or when people need to draw broader attention to a problem. it can include tactics such as peaceful demonstrations, letter-writing and petition campaign.

  6. Reconcile Keep all actions and negotiations peaceful and constructive. Agree to disagree with some people and with some groups as you work to improve society. Show all involved the benefits of changing, not what they will give up by changing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change

Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, The King Center is the official, living memorial dedicated to the advancement of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leader of America’s greatest nonviolent movement for justice, equality and peace.

More than 650,000 visitors from all over the world are drawn annually to the King Center to pay homage to Dr. King, view unique exhibits illustrating his life and teachings and visit the King Center’s Library, Archives, his final resting place, his birth home, gift shop and other facilities. Located in Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, The King Center utilizes diverse communications media, including books, audio and video cassettes, film, television, CDs and web pages, to reach out far beyond its physical boundaries to educate people all over the world about Dr. King’s life, work and his philosophy and methods of nonviolent conflict-reconciliation and social change.

In these web pages, you will find invaluable resources to become informed about Dr. King and the ongoing efforts to fulfill his great dream of the Beloved Community for America and the world. With your support, The King Center will make a major contribution to preparing coming generations of Dr. King’s followers to carry forward his unfinished work into the 21st century.

Yolanda King

Here is a new report that was not widely covered by the media this week.

MLK's daughter Yolanda King dies
51-year-old was actress, advocate
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Errin Haines
Associated Press

Atlanta -- Yolanda King, the firstborn child of the first family
of the civil rights movement, who honored that legacy through acting and
advocacy, died late Tuesday. She was 51. The daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King died in Santa Monica, Calif. Family
members did not know the cause of death, but suspect it might have been a heart

"This is just the last thing and the last person that we
expected this to happen to," said Issac Newton Farris, the Kings' cousin and
chief executive officer of the King Center. Former Mayor Andrew Young, a
lieutenant of her father's who has remained close to the family, said King was
going to her brother Dexter's home when she collapsed in the doorway. Yolanda
King, who lived in California, appeared in numerous films including "Ghosts of
Mississippi" and played Rosa Parks in the 1978 miniseries "King." She also ran a
production company.

"She used her acting ability to dramatize the
essence of the movement," said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who
worked alongside King's father. "She could motivate and inspire and tell the
story. I heard her recite I Have A Dream' on several occasions.

"She made it real, made it part of her. I think her father
would've been very, very proud of her."

Yolanda King's death came
less than a year and a half after Coretta Scott King died in January 2006 after
battling ovarian cancer and the effects of a stroke. Her struggle prompted her
daughter to become a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, raising
awareness, especially among blacks, about stroke.

Yolanda Denise
King, nick named Yoki by the family, was born Nov. 17, 1955, in Montgomery,
Ala., where her father was then preaching.

She was just 2 weeks
old when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus there, leading to the
Montgomery bus boycott spearheaded by King's father. When the family's house was
firebombed eight weeks later, she and her mother were at home but were not hurt.

She was a young girl during her father's famous stay in the
Birmingham, Ala., jail. She was 12 years old when he was assassinated in
Memphis, Tenn., in 1968.

"She lived with a lot of the trauma of
our struggle," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who worked with her father. "The
movement was in her DNA."

The Rev. Al Sharpton called King a
"torchbearer for her parents and a committed activist in her own right."

White House press secretary Tony Snow said President Bush and the
first lady were sad to learn of King's death, adding, "Our thoughts are with the
King family today."

Yolanda King founded and led Higher Ground
Productions, billed as a "gateway for inner peace, unity and global

In 1963, when she was 7, her father mentioned her
and her siblings at the March on Washington, saying: "I have a dream that my
four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged
by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Her brother Martin III was born in 1957; brother Dexter in 1961;
and sister Bernice in 1963. King was a 1976 graduate of Smith College in
Northampton, Mass., where she majored in theater and Afro-American studies. She
also earned a master's degree in theater from New York University.

Funeral arrangements were to be announced later, the family said
in a brief statement.

Aslo She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Incorporated (the official national memorial to her father) and was founding Director of the King Center's Cultural Affairs Program. She served on the Partnership Council of Habitat for Humanity, was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a sponsor of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and held a lifetime membership in the NAACP

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Turn the other cheek

With all that is going on in the world I’m posting something on nonviolence that we all can understand. This is from Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

Turn the other cheek is a famous phrase taken from the Sermon on the Mount in the Christian New Testament. In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says:
"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:38-42, NIV)
A parallel version is offered in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke:
"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,"
"Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:28-31. King James Version)

Some interpret this as promoting nonresistance, pacifism or nonviolence.

Historical origins

Some hold that Jesus, while rejecting "eye for an eye," built upon previous Jewish ethical teachings in the Hebrew Bible, "You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudge against, the members of your race, but will love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18).
It is also thought to be possible that Jesus was influenced by the teachings of the Pharisee Hillel the Elder who is famously quoted as describing the Golden Rule to be an effective summation of the Torah, and also "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" (Pirkei Avot 1:14) In this way, personal dignity is both to be given to your brother and demanded for yourself. (see non literal interpretations below for turn the other cheek as a act of defiance )

An analogous sentiment is spoken by Socrates in his conversation with Crito in 399 BC before his execution in Athens. “One should never do wrong in return, nor mistreat any man, no matter how one has been mistreated by him.” This moral guides Socrates in his argument to a conclusion that he should not attempt to escape from punishment despite being wrongfully imprisoned. From the Grube translation of Crito found in Plato's Five Dialogues revised by Cooper

I have always though of my self a follower of Christ, but I am also a follower of Gandhi, The Buddha, and the Dalai Lama. Their core massage has always been one of peace and nonviolence. I thing we some times forget that message or miss it all together.
To read more go to

Thursday, July 27, 2006


"Holding to Truth, Moving In"
by Bill Leicht

After Meeting recently an ex-inmate friend, T. Haywood, stated flatly that he is anti-violent, not non-violent. I believe he meant that transforming violence requires an activism not suggested by the word "non-violence." From my work in the ghettos of New York City, with street youth and in Aikido (a "non-violent" Japanese martial art) I believe that he is on to something

Already in the 1920's M. K. Ghandi's methods were being called "passive resistance." Later "non-violence" became a more common term (still connoting passivity). Gandhi tried to counter this notion by insisting on "satyagraha" or "holding to the truth" as the better name for his methods; its real meaning lay also in "ahimsa," doing no harm. Certainly the image of wave after wave of "satyagrahi" walking up to a police line, then, without striking back, allowing ghurka police to truncheon them to the ground may have startled the West by its disciplined gentleness, but just as certainly Gandhi was actively resisting the British Raj.

Friends Peace Teams, Peace Brigades International and other groups carry on this tradition of civil rights activism. Their non-violent activism still may be misunderstood in part, because of the role of the body.

Anti-violence and the Body

Holding to the truth, we may discern that conflict and violence are physical and perceptible, always, as they are also mental (symbolic and emotional) and spiritual (affecting being itself). Treating them as essentially symbolic, emotional or moral can seem like "whistling in the wind" to those undergoing or emerging from the trauma of war or terror. Nevertheless, most conflict literature and training explore symbolic, social and emotional factors; very few consider the somatic level beyond "body language." However, even verbal violence has a direct and observable effect: e.g., in the first moments of a tongue-lashing an "aggressor" leans forward, then the intended "victim" leans away (further hormonal, postural and behavioral changes may follow and signal changing dominance relationships).

These bodily responses to conflict are "soft-wired" in our nervous system, not "hard-wired" as sometimes maintained; they are malleable with proper training! Surely the Indian Salt March Satyagrahi received intensive physical, mental and spiritual preparation for their suffering. Ghandi said so (I have tried unsuccessfully to discover exactly what that training was). One presumes that yoga was a part of their discipline and that it included breathing, relaxation and concentration. In fact "fight, approach, flight" responses use the same breath, muscle tone and attention that yoga affects (including the central nervous and endocrine systems that control, and are controlled by, them).

We could define "anti-violence" as satyagraha and ahimsa: actively holding to the truth and doing no harm. Anti-violence training then would prepare the body, mind and spirit to take charge of the "fight, approach, flight" responses, rather than be subject to them. What would such training be like physically?

Well, it would look rather like one exercise of the Alternatives to Violence Project ("AVP") "Basic Workshop," the "Hand Pushing Demonstration." In some ways it would resemble hatha yoga. Or, for those familiar with the martial arts, it would look very much like Aikido or Tai Chi.
How can we apply this view of active non-violence (i.e., anti-violence) to those who suffer from war and terror? Strangely, it was a post-Marxist revolutionary, Franz Fanon whose Wretched of the Earth gave me a clue. (3) He discusses at length exactly how "internalization of oppression" (his term) takes place in the oppressor! as well as the oppressed and in the body as well as the mind. For most people, anti-violence responses experienced and learned physically are effective and very memorable.

Assertion: To Center, Join, Approach (Irimi), and Turn

Assertion as well as avoidance and aggression has a physical expression. It is "approach behavior" (or irimi a term we'll clarify below). Avoidance, appears physically, as "flight" or "freeze" behavior. Aggression appears as "fight" behavior. Assertion is more complex than the other two, which may explain why approach requires skillful means while avoidance and aggression seem to come naturally.

That difference arises from the distinction between subject and object. Both aggression and avoidance treat another organism as an object. That is, the purpose of each behavior for the organism is to use the other for its benefit (or safety): eat or be eaten. The purpose of approach is to benefit both parties, challenger and challenged. Reproduction as the most basic of all joining behaviors is its primitive model. At the symbolic and physical levels, subject and object join in one dynamic field, communication. Since assertion considers both parties as subjects or beings, it lies at a more complex and "spiritual" level than aggression or avoidance, not "better," not right for all circumstances, but definitely more complex.

The skillful means in physical assertion involves moving in, but recognizing the being of the other party makes it more complex. This assertion is not simply movement toward an object as English implies, but movement on the physical, mental and spiritual levels simultaneously. The Japanese term irimi better describes physical assertion than "moving in," because it includes the idea of joining, of being-to-being recognition. Irimi also works better than "approach behavior" because it does not imply scientific objectivity and does include spiritual interaction as integral to execution. One skillful means of anti-violence, then, is irimi.

A second means in assertion is "centering." Fortunately in English centering does include physical, mental and spiritual dimensions. For a physical model of centering we have the image of clay spinning before a potter (eloquently developed by M. C. Richards in Centering). Her imagery aptly reflects the sensation of a person moving "on center" in response to a challenge. On the mental level we have the ideas of intellectual and emotional balance. Finally, we find "centering" used to describe the process of deep concentration in worship (Quaker, Zen, Christian, Muslim--all use it).

The skillful means in centering, like irimi, is not obvious. The experience itself is that of letting concentration settle out of the head, leaving behind thought and emotion, and attending to a non-verbal awareness deep in the lower abdomen that does not make distinctions like "physical," mental" or "spiritual."

Developing the skills of irimi and centering is a major focus of the discipline of Aikido. The process of learning and internalizing them is also the process of reversing "internalized oppression." Neuro-muscular traces, including those in the brain and central neuro-hormonal system, may be the reason for most behavior that leads to violence, aggression and subordination or victimization. That implies that the body and its habits are a major source of "moral and immoral behavior," although our language and culture treat morality as primarily mental or spiritual.

Significantly, most moral training emphasizes posture. Prayer and meditation have specific positions. Worship and sacrament have them, too. And we make a verbal-moral distinction between the "upright" and the "crooked" person. How then do we encourage uprightness?
Love is the answer, but getting there is more than repeating, "Love, Love, Love…". When we have "joined" another (especially by recognizing the being of an aggressor), and have approached on "center," we have created most of the conditions for love to flow. The problem is, we may get "hit." Sometimes our joining and approach are such that suffering is a necessary step toward love. Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi both stressed the redemptive value of suffering (which has deep roots in most religions). However, such suffering isn't always necessary, sometimes it is even counterproductive-- as in most individual violence. In such case love is best served when the aggressor cannot injure the object of aggression.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Poem: The Meaning of God

There is an indefinable mysterious Power that pervades everything.

I feel It, though I do not see It.

It is this unseen Power which makes Itself felt and yet defies all proof,because It is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses.

It transcends the senses....

That informing Power or Spirit is God....

For I can see that in the midst of death life persists, in the midst of untruth, truth persists, in the midst of darkness light persists.

Hence I gather that God is Life, Truth, Light. He is love.

He is supreme good.

But he is no God who merely satisfies the intellectIf He ever does.

God to be God must rule the heart and transform it.

~M. K. Gandhi
(Young India, October 11, 1928)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Force More Powerful

Here is a little about a movie that is a must see. A Force More Powerful, a three-hour documentary series, explores one of the 20th century's most important but least-understood stories - how nonviolent power overcame oppression and authoritarian rule all over the world. Narrated by Ben Kingsley, it premiered on PBS in September 2000.

The film is about three non-violent 'revolutions' that occurred this century - in India in the 30s, Black America in the late 50s and South Africa in the 80s. The makers of this film have done a good job of choosing to reduce the temporal scope of the documentaries, resulting in a detailed study of the actual logistics of civil disobedience. They have managed to obtain some amazing footage, in each of the three cases, that i had not seen before - such as the reactions of white store-owners in tennessee, and the riots in the townships of south africa.

Also Check out the Book.