By Zach Van Houten
Non-violence is not just about abstaining from physical violence.
It is also a commitment to the ideal of non-violent communication.
These are obviously ideals, and sometimes life puts us in non-ideal situations. And the commitment to these ideals does not give us the right to look down on those who do not adhere to the same values.
But peaceful communication, what is called in Buddhism “Right Speech”, is a step towards a more harmonious world. This means we seek to listen deeply and compassionately to all, even those we deeply disagree with. We strive to share love with all, even those considered unlovable. We seek to avoid harsh statements and mockery of others, seeing all people as worthy of respect by virtue of their existence.
To those undergoing persecution and trials in this life, we support your dignity. And we know that suffering often leads to violence. I do not support violence but I support human dignity. Those who are capable and privileged to use nonviolent means, should consider the gift of nonviolence as a approach to the achievement of peace. We should accept all beings on the basis of the inherent dignity of Being, and from that place work to achieve peaceful ends with the least amount of harm caused in the process.
We cannot pursue peace until we have released the hate we carry in ourselves, and commit to the process of internal and external healing.