Friday, October 17, 2008

a third way we learn to hold tension in ways that open our hearts, we begin to see how abnormal violence is. Now -- as openheartedness looses what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" -- we experience our innate capacity to honor, not violate, the identity and integrity of others. We witness the remarkable things that can happen within us, between us, and beyond us when we relate to one another in a nonviolent way. We learn a "third way" to respond to the violence that is always around us and within us, so called because it offers an alternative to the "fight or flight" response.

To fight is to meet violence with violence, generating more of the same. To flee is to yield to violence, putting private sanctuary ahead of the common good. The third way is nonviolence, by which I mean a commitment to act in every situation in ways that honor the soul. Defined in this way, nonviolence is not a path of high heroism reserved for the likes of Gandhi and King. It is a path that can, and must, be walked by mortals like you and me.
Parker Palmer, from The Politics of the Brokenhearted

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