DAY 52 Mar. 22: The thought for today is EQUALITY.
Have you ever noticed the groups of people who are under-represented in your activities and lifestyle? The Constitution of the United States says that all people are equal, and all people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Do you think everyone in our community is treated equally? If not, what can you do to change this?
“Unless man is committed to the belief that all mankind are his brothers, then he labors in vain and hypocritically in the vineyards of equality.” -Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
When you recognize as your equals those with whom you disagree, true opportunities for dialogue emerge – opportunities that are denied when you think of yourself as better than, or less than, others. Martin Buber wrote about the “I-Thou” connection, the ultimate equality, and the place from which nonviolence originates.
Today: I will be mindful of ways that I see myself as better than others. When I listen to people today, I will listen to them as equals; when I speak, I will speak to others as equals. I will enrich my life by considering how I can invite different people and unusual experiences into my life today.
DAY 51 Mar. 21: The thought for today is ADVOCACY.
“When someone stands up to violence” says Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, “a force for change is released. Every action for peace requires someone to exhibit the courage to challenge violence and inspire love.”
Thich Nhat Hanh’s life is about nonviolence, and ours can be too.
When we choose to be an advocate for nonviolence and decide right now that we will be the one to stop the violence, we release peace into the world.
Today: I will be an ally. Without blaming or judging others, I will listen from my heart, and speak out with love for those who are disrespected, abused or not listened to. I will find out how I can be an advocate in current conflicts, such as in The Sudan.
DAY 50 Mar. 20: The thought for today is CHOICE.
Be aware of any jokes or remarks that show disrespect toward ethnic groups, women or men, classes of people, religious groups, gays or lesbians.
By being considerate of every person’s dignity and by choosing not to participate in disrespectful communication, I am contributing to a nonviolent society.
“The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny – it is the light that guides your way.” -Heraclitus
Do you think the statement “We always have a choice” is true? Do you ever think that you don’t have a choice? Do you ever think you must be violent? Can you always choose nonviolence?
Today: I will write about the choices I face throughout the day and on how they translate my commitment to nonviolence into my thoughts, words and actions.
DAY 49 Mar. 19: The thought for today is HONOR.
“Those who are good and pure in conduct are honored wherever they go. The good shine like the Himalayas, whose peaks glisten above the rest of the world even when seen from a distance. ” -The Buddha
People who are as described by Buddha, who work for the welfare of others, will be very deeply loved, respected and honored wherever they go. It is a simple law of human nature that we love the highest, that we emulate such people, and we want to lead the kind of life they lead.
This is the saving grace of human nature: when we see someone who is patient, kind, forgiving, and forbearing, we recognize their nonviolent ways, because we too, have those qualities. As we honor them, we honor ourselves.
Today: A simple way to raise my awareness of honoring others is to do so at mealtime. Before each meal today, I will stop to think about all the people involved with the food I eat and I will silently say to them, “I honor you.” Likewise, I will bless and honor the earth for its abundance.
DAY 48 Mar. 18: The thought for today is ECOLOGY.
Gandhi said “To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”
Individuals like you and me who make the final decisions about what is bought and sold in the stores, how much carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere, and what is dumped into the sea. Each of us can begin to heal the environment right away by changing our daily habits.
And what about our internal environment, which is as real as the one we see around us? This internal environment has a powerful effect on the external environment: the way we think affects the way we treat the earth.
When we purify this inner environment, we are not only making ourselves more secure and fulfilled, but we are also making an important contribution to the health of Mother Earth.
Nonviolence extends from ourselves, not just to our brothers and sisters, but to the earth as well.
Today: I will practice recycling by using at least one recycled product and by recycling a product. I will reduce, reuse and recycle the products I use.
DAY 47 Mar. 17: The thought for today is DISARMAMENT.
What if we lived in a world where there were no weapons? What if we used the resources for developing weapons for other projects? What if we really did beat swords into plowshares?
Imagine such a world for yourself and your family, because until be believe it is possible, it cannot become a reality. Peace and nonviolence, does, and must, begin with each and every one of us.
Today: I will have a conversation with someone today about what the world would be like if there were no weapons, nor any need for them. I will define new uses for the resources freed-up by not developing weapons.
DAY 46 Mar. 16: The thought for today is COMPASSION.
Mother Teresa implored us to “find someone who thinks he is alone and let him know that he is not.”
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -The 14th Dalai Lama
A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Compassion is about both relieving suffering and about celebration (which also relieves suffering by putting it in a context of gratitude). With compassion comes a greatness of heart. Compassion arises when we allow our heart to be touched by the pain and needs of others.
Today: I will engage compassion to lead my actions, my words and my life.
DAY 45 Mar. 15: The thought for today is MASTERY.
Labor organizer, Cesar Chavez taught “If you use violence you have to sell part of yourself for that violence. Then you are no longer a master of your own struggle.”
To practice nonviolence you must learn to master your anger. Breathe deeply, silently counting backwards from ten to calm yourself and cool off before you speak or act with impatience or anger.
“We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.”
This should not be surprising. After all, to attain excellence in anything we have to work at it. An Olympic swimming champion doesn’t go for a workout once a week on Sunday afternoon, but practices for hours every day.
The impetus to gain mastery over one’s mind and senses does not come from some Olympian height, or from a distant deity; it doesn’t come from any monastic rule, or even from one’s spiritual teacher. It comes from deep within yourself. You have had a fleeting glimpse of the shining presence within, and in its bright remembered light, all your flaws and blemishes are thrown into sharp relief. You can’t wait to start removing them.
Today: When I think of something or get into a situation where anger comes up, I will acknowledge the anger then breathe deeply, silently counting backwards from ten, and then decide what action to take. Mastery of nonviolence will come as I continue to practice.
DAY 44 Mar. 14: The thought for today is COOPERATION.
When we work together, we are stronger than when we work alone. When we find ways that we can cooperate more effectively with the people in our family or workplace, school or community, we are tearing down walls of separation; we are contributing to a nonviolent culture.
Today: Find a very heavy object. Try to pick it up by yourself. Now ask 3 or 4 other people to assist. How did working together with other people help make this task easier for you?
DAY 43 Mar. 13: The thought for today is UNIQUENESS.
Dale Carnegie says “The greatest need people have is for love and approval.”
Most of us cannot help comparing ourselves with others, at least now and then. This has become so entrenched in our culture that in order to have self-esteem, it seems almost necessary to say “I am better than he or she” implying therefore I am good.
As long as we compete with each other and compare one with another, a certain amount of envy is inescapable. It is the very rare person who is completely free from jealousy.
But as our awareness grows, we will know that there is a uniqueness about everyone. The truly nonviolent person never tries to compare himself with others, or others among themselves. While being aware of our uniqueness, also being aware of our oneness creates a sense of nonviolence.
Today: I will do something that shows how unique I am. I may draw a picture, sing a song, dance or write a story. I will praise, compliment or honor the uniqueness of someone I know and by doing so, notice the positive impact I make by recognizing their uniqueness.
DAY 42 Mar. 12: The thought for today is ACCOUNTABILITY.
In conflicting situations, personal accountability allows me to take responsibility for how I contribute to a conflict. I can then make a different choice that can lead to a peaceful resolution.
Today: I will be accountable for my words today. I will make a list of the thoughts I think and the words I speak that are violent. Every time I become aware of my violent thoughts or words, I will say to myself “delete” and start again.
DAY 41 Mar. 11: The thought for today is OPENNESS.
A Turkish proverb says, “he who builds himself a fence, fences out more than he fences in.”
If you don’t listen to someone because they look different or have different ideas than you, you’re building a fence around yourself and you’re missing out on having a new friend and learning something new.
When we refrain from acting on a negative emotion or selfish desire, we stop building the fence around our life – we can open our life up to others.
When we can be open to the opportunity for growth, we can use this as a way to find nonviolent ways to resolve differences.
Today: I will be open to understanding ideas and people that I have previously opposed. I will find somebody who I never wanted to talk to before and find a way to have a conversation with him or her.