Reflecting on Non-Violence

“I need to set myself to the study of non-violence, with thoroughness. The complete, integral practice of it in community life.”

—Thomas Merton, Journal, 21 August 1962

Autumn. It has been almost four months since I made a decision to change the way that I live, and I feel happier now than at any other time in my life. I rise earlier in the morning (around 6 o’clock) to read and watch the sunrise. I go cycling or running almost every day, rain or shine. I have also become a regular visitor to my local library, which has a wonderful selection of books on every conceivable topic. At the moment, I am spending my days writing, looking for part-time work, and nourishing myself with healthy and delicious food.

I continue to find international news events troubling. I was saddened to hear about the most recent American mass shooting in Las Vegas, which took the lives of over fifty people and injured over five hundred. Someone who attended my wedding was at the event, and while she managed to escape she knew people who were shot. Other family members also know friends and colleagues who were in attendance that day, including some who were killed.

The shooting occurred on the first day of October. The next day, I spent an hour or more watching footage and witness accounts broadcast on various channels. I then picked up my coat and went walking. The second of October is traditionally known as the International Day of Non-Violence, a day inaugurated by the United Nations General Assembly ten years ago (June 2007). The second of October is significant since it marks the birthday of non-violence advocate and political activist Mahatma Gandhi. As I passed along Lloyd George Avenue, I saw that a new statue of the civil rights leader was being unveiled. The likeness struck me as a potent and inspiring reminder of human potential in the face of inestimable odds, and, moreover, a testament to the importance of kindness and compassion in these troubled times.

I went home and spent some time reading Thomas Merton.

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  1. Nice piece. Thomas Merton is inspirational, perhaps because he is so honest about his inner struggles.

  2. Sad, also, that Gandhi is a rather conflicted figure; I’ve been shocking friends, for twenty years, with the well-documented evidence that MKG was quite racist (whites on top, Indians in the middle, blacks on bottom was his basic worldview and he served for the Boers, in 1906, in the suppressing of the Zulu rebellion, to prove it)… not to mention that he killed his wife by denying her the “western medicine” that he himself resorted to, later, when his own life was on the line. Black (South) Africans generally have a very different of MKG than we of “The West”..

    As a WOC (writer of color), I’m always amazed that a genuine non-racist like John Lennon could be (largely posthumously) attacked for writing the great equal rights anthem “Woman is the N—– of the World”… while MKG retains his sainthood despite his documented view of African “natives” as being slightly better than beasts. And don’t get me started on Lincoln (again: his own words are damning)! Many “heroes” are false. We should always question the Media’s (and the school system’s) motives for these deceptions.

    Re: the latest massacre: American society is quite obviously sick; I expatriated for a reason. One such massacre means only that the gunman is deranged; hundreds of such massacres in a ten year period indicts the culture. We haven’t been back, to visit, since 2005 and don’t intend to!

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