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Campaign Nonviolence Conference Call April 2016

Posted by Ryan Hall

On April 26, 2016 we held our latest Campaign Nonviolence Conference Call. On the call we welcomed guest speakers Michael Nagler and Stephanie Van Hook with the Metta Center for Nonviolence speaking about connecting the dots between issues and how to build constructive actions for change. Below you will find the notes and audio from this call. RSVP for the next call on May 31 here.

Campaign Nonviolence National Conference Call
April 26, 2016, 5pm Pacific/ 8pm Eastern (60 minutes)

Listen to the call here:

Welcome – Ryan Hall/Rivera Sun

Opening Reflection – Veronica Pelicaric – Pace e Bene International Programs Coordinator

Nonviolence means an ocean of compassion, it means shedding from us every trace of ill will for others. It does not mean objectness or timidity or fleeing in fear. It mean on the  contrary firmness of mind and courage, a resolute spirit.  Let us resolve that we will never give up the pursuit of Truth  — Gandhi

Roll Call – Ryan Hall read through the list of those in attendance on the call.  95 people registered for the call.

CNV in 2016Rivera Sun

  • Welcome to CNV, our goals, overview of agenda tonight, (announcements, guests Michael and Stephanie, Q & A, and some time at the end for organizer news and action ideas).
    • We started CNV 2 ½ years ago with the faith that this idea can really build a culture of active nonviolence.  Over these years it has grown from an idea to a vibrant movement into all 50 US states and 7 countries.
  • 2016 Week of Actions Sept 18-25th, 500 actions
    • If you are planning a CNV action this fall, let us know here:
    • By adding your name to the list of those planning actions it helps build and encourage momentum with others considering planning an action.  You don’t need to have any details about your action yet,.
  • Robin Wildman, who was our speaker on the last call is holding a training this summer called, the Kingian Nonviolence Educator Institute, Monday, July 18-Thursday July 21st, 8:30am-2:30 p.m, in Providence Rhode Island at the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. She recommends you send a team of 3-5 people, and that you register by June 15th. Find more info at here. You can also email
  • Thank you to the thousand ways you contribute to this movement to build a culture of nonviolence.

Vatican Conference ReportJohn Dear (Audio was choppy)

  • John thanked  everyone for joining the call and encouraged people to take action in September during CNV week.  He said they had an incredible week in Rome.  They had been working over the course of a year for this conference.  This was the first time the Vatican has held a conference like this.  80 people from around the world were there.  John said it is being well received at the Vatican.  He felt it was truly a sign of hope.
  • Ken Butigan said this was an historic conference.  They were able to come to consensus calling the church to recenter its approach in the nonviolence of Jesus and the life of the church to follow in that direction.  Our hope is that this would be a call worldwide for more active and creative nonviolence.  The work is just beginning as we try to see this become reality.  Ken encouraged people to take this as a sign of hope.  He said he feels this is a turning point toward nonviolence and the Rome Conference was a vision on where we are going.  Ken said that the spirit of CNV was there in the room as well!
  • You can read more about this conference on our website here:

Guest Speakers Michael Nagler and Stephanie Van Hook

  • Rivera Sun introduced Michael Nagler and Stephanie Van Hook of the Metta Center for Nonviolence in Petaluma, CA. Michael is the author of Search for a Nonviolent Future and The Nonviolence Handbook. Stephanie is a Montessori teacher, and the executive director of the Metta Center.
  • Michael began with an overview of a Constructive Program.  Michael started off with a little anecdote. When he was a professor at Berkeley they had a chancellor named Michael Hammon.  While talking with him they spoke about how the left is disorganized. Michael felt stung by that remark and has been thinking about how to better organize.  He said basically we need a strategy.  Michael mentioned that Gandhi started with a constructive program.  Most nonviolent movements today are either constructive or obstructive programs, very few are both.  However, if you have both you could be invincible.  The first feature of a constructive program is slightly metaphysical.  He said Martin Luther King did not arouse anger, they expressed anger under discipline for maximum effect.  That is where nonviolence comes from.  We have anger but we need to express it under discipline for maximum effect.  This is what a constructive program is good for.  Gandhi described nonviolence as the most positive force in the world, that violence doesn’t really exist, we merely support it by our attention.  
  • A Constructive Program is when you go out and build what you need instead of getting someone else to do it for you.  There are hundreds of examples.  The first thing is to break your dependency from an outside power, like when Gandhi started spinning and broke their dependency on British cloth. Also more people can join your cause.  Nothing is as powerful as working together on a common project to bind people.  Constructive program also gives you continuity in time.  When you can’t do obstructive programming like protests, you can drop back to Constructive programming which the opposition doesn’t have a way of stopping.  
  • Michael said the other feature of Constructive programming is that there is a lot less harm.  Violence can take years and years to heal the harm that is done.  He suggested that a key to success is to build society in advance with a parallel structure so that when things fall apart, there is another structure to take it’s place.  Without this parallel structure, the same kind of power you were fighting against will replace it.
  • Michael said there are many potential constructive programs happening now.  A real program can proceed in two phases.  The first is non-confrontational, though it should have a hidden and indirect impact on a regime, like Gandhi’s spinning.  From there you advance to something like the Gandhi’s Salt Campaign which broke the law and was directly in their face.
  • Michael also spoke about the Metta Center’s project called The Roadmap.  They pulled together Gandhian principles and asked what would a Gandhian movement look like. The divided it into 6 problem areas.  The most important one was what they called New Story Creation.  This involves embedding their efforts into a new paradigm since it’s hard to explain how nonviolence works in the current one.
  • Stephanie Van Hook spoke about how with Constructive program we have to work on our communities without externalizing an enemy.  In direct resistance we have an easily identifiable “enemy” that people can unite around.  What happens though when have have disagreements with our families and friends, how do we address this?  This is good nonviolence practice and work.  When we figure out a good constructive program we learn how to stop seeking an enemy, and rather see the system as the thing to confront. It redirects our focus in a new way.  Gandhi said he has three opponents and the hardest one was himself.  When we have the ability within ourselves to compromise with nonessential things, but stick to our principles where it matters, then we have a victory.  
  • Q & A
    • Rivera mentioned that Gandhi had close to 18 Constructive Programs including education, latrine building and arbitration courts.
    • Bonnie in Utah spoke about the importance of the Golden Rule.  She said we need to work hard to remind people about this since it is very universal among both religious and secular. She said she is working to introduce this in Utah in a more widespread way.  Stephanie Van Hook responded that the Golden Rule is important and comes up where she works in preschool as well.  She said you have to look at the goal underneath it too as a way to interrupt harm and not use it as an eye for an eye type of rule.  Michael Nagler added that Gandhi said no one could consider another person their enemy without first becoming their own enemy. So when you hurt another person you end up hurting yourself.
    • Wendy in Florida mentioned that one of the real problems in the US is child abuse.  She said one thing that is missing in the peace and justice effort is addressing this issue.  How many who are involved in this movement are hurt by this kind of abuse.  Stephanie said that she could see a constructive program being born with this desire to see something change.
    • Wally in Hawaii thanked Michael for his work and said he has enjoyed his book.  Michael also said that his book has been translated into Chinese and he could help him get that version if he needs.
    • Agnes in So. Carolina said she has working with people who don’t like to compromise on issues.  She also said that she has recently learned more about motivational listening and being empathetic.    She wondered also how to address refugees in Rwanda.  Michael said that Nonviolent Peace Force is in South Sudan right now to help with Gender based violence.  He said that in terms of working with people who want to get their own way all the time, and avoiding pushing our own way, he finds that using our imagination by putting ourselves in their shoes to figure out why they want to get their way all the time helps. He said it makes the other person very real .  Stephanie said Gandhi was very big on experimenting so she encouraged her to try different approaches.
    • Alice in California said they are working on ending the death penalty and hope to call for a mobilization event in September. They intend to have speakers, public walks, etc.  Michael Nagler encouraged her to put her efforts into a context that explains to people why they are opposed to the death penalty and that we are all connected.  He said it’s also about creating a new story.
    • Ken Butigan wanted to speak about the question about those in Africa and overcoming differences.  He was recently in Uganda at a leadership conference that brought people throughout east africa working together on nonviolence issues.  All of them had experience violence in some form. Ken said they have a lot of infrastructure in place that we don’t have. In terms of overcoming differences he said, in regards to the Vatican conference, they had to have consensus among 85 people from around the world with many different points of view.  He saw difference without division and felt very hopeful about this.
    • David in California asked if there is any constructive program that people around the country can do now to unite us, similar to the spinning wheel in India. Michael Nagler said that he isn’t sure of one thing that would do it.  However, he feels we need to start creating a new story or paradigm.  He felt that it is central to other changes.
    • Robin in Minnesota asked whether we are trying to get the Black Lives Matter movement involved with CNV. She is concerned that there are many older people involved in the peace movement but we need younger people and more diverse groups too. Rivera said that we actually had quite a few younger people on the call and who have been involved in our work though it’s hard to tell on the phone. Rivera said we’ve also done some training with Black Lives Matter in Chicago as well and we continue to support any movement for racial justice.
    • Wendy in Florida, responding to David’s question about a national Constructive program, suggested that the best Constructive program right now for the US could be gardening. Rivera agreed!

Wrap-up – Rivera Sun

Date and Time of Next Meeting: Save the date! Tuesday, May 31st, 8pm ET/5pm PT, Erica Chenoweth, coauthor of Why Civil Resistance Works will be our speaker. RSVP HERE!

Closing by Veronica Pelicaric reading the Campaign Nonviolence Pledge

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