The Nonviolent Life Study Group Questions
Starting a study group using John Dear’s latest book The Nonviolent Life is a great way to begin the nonviolent journey or simply continue deeper along that path.
The book is divided into three parts: 1) Nonviolence Toward Ourselves, 2) Nonviolence Toward All Others, 3) Joining the Global Grassroots Movement of Nonviolence. After each section you will find a few pages of reflection questions for a study group. Listed below are selected questions from each section of The Nonviolent Life to help you get a better feel for the study group reflection process.
Part One: Nonviolence Toward Ourselves
- How do you define nonviolence? What challenges you about nonviolence
- How are you violent toward yourself? How do you put yourself down, hurt yourself, cultivate inner violence and perpetuate violence, resentment and hatred?
- Do you want to cultivate interior nonviolence and inner peace? How can you become more nonviolent toward yourself? What makes you feel violent toward yourself, and how can you move from inner violence toward inner nonviolence? Reflect on your entire life journey within the framework of violence and nonviolence. What do you learn about yourself?
- Where is God in your life? What has been your experience of the God of peace? What is your image of God? How is God a God of peace and nonviolence? How can you make peace with the God of peace? What happens when you dwell with the God of peace? How have we experienced the peace and nonviolence of God? When did you hear God call you, “My beloved daughter” or “My beloved son”? How much quality time do you take with the God of peace every day? How can you spend more time with God every day? What does it mean for you to be a peacemaker, to be the beloved daughter or son of the God of peace, and to see every human being alive as a beloved sister or brother? How is God disarming your heart and giving you peace? Do you want God’s gift of peace?
Part Two: Nonviolence Toward All Others
- How can we become more nonviolent to those we know and meet? Where do we need to improve our nonviolence—among our families, friends, workplace, church, peace groups? How can we practice a meticulous interpersonal nonviolence?
- Who challenges our nonviolence most? How do we practice nonviolence to those who are violent toward us? Where do we find the God of peace as we practice interpersonal nonviolence?
- How can small, ordinary, day-to-day encounters help us strengthen our nonviolence so that we will be better able to practice nonviolence in our public work, demonstrations, and movements? In what areas of life, such as our driving, can we become more nonviolent?
- How can we create more inclusive circles of peace and nonviolence in our lives? How can we help our local communities become communities of nonviolence? How can we start a new community of peace and nonviolence around us?
Part Three: Joining the Global Grassroots Movement of Nonviolence
- When have you seen the power of active nonviolence work, in your own life and in the public movements for justice and peace? What conclusions do you draw from the new book, Why Civil Resistance Works, which argues that nonviolent movements achieve far better ends than violent movements? What does that mean for us as we face the global crises of today?
- Do you agree with Dr. King’s principles of nonviolence and steps for action in a nonviolent movement? How are you already living according to these principles and putting these steps into action? Which ones challenge you the most? How can you live more and more according to his principles and put those steps into action to help build up the global grassroots movement of nonviolence?
- What touches you, inspires you, and challenges you about the 1963 Birmingham and the Birmingham Pledge of nonviolence? What other campaigns and movements inspire you to carry on the work of movement building, protest organizing, truth-telling and risk-taking for justice and peace?
- What nonviolent movements and nonviolent actions have you participated in? Where do we see the hope and power of active nonviolence working in the world today? What new nonviolent public action can you undertake for justice and peace? What global grassroots movement of nonviolence are you part of or do you wish to join?
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