It Can’t Go On Like this. Spiritual Duty of the Application of Non-Violence. Be an Agent of Change
We look around us and we witness a global crisis unfolding before our eyes. We might say to ourselves and to each other “It can’t go on like this.”
Pandemics, an overheating earth, droughts, floods, forest fires, dried up rivers, loss of crops, extreme weather conditions, regional wars, depleting resources and increasing levels of suffering among the rich and poor nations worldwide.
Take one continent
Europe currently experiences the worst drought in 500 years, with two-thirds of the continent under a drought warning. This is according to current report from the Global Drought Observatory. Farm land urgently requires irrigation of the land. Forest fires have spread in various countries. Nearly half of Europe’s rivers are drying up. Parts of Europe have suffered major crop failure, including maize, soybeans and sunflowers. Ukraine cannot export wheat to the rest of the world. Glaciers in the Alps melt at their fastest rate. Low water in rivers hampers inland shipping. Energy prices go up and up. Strikes increase as people struggle to put food on the table and heat their homes. The Russian army engages in a brutal war on Ukraine. Inflation increases up to 10% in some countries. That means a 10% loss in purchasing power in a year.
Deep spiritual teachings in the East regard non-violence (ahimsa) as the highest duty for all human beings. Non-violence responses to suffering expresses and confirms the deepest sense of empathy, friendship and understanding of the mutual needs of people, creatures and our natural habitat.
Non-violence includes the refusal to inflict violence, kill another or support the killing of living beings. This approach requires immense dedication to uphold the value of ahimsa regardless of pressure from others to compromise the view. The best within ancient traditions of India, such as Buddhist, Hindu and Jain, have remained steadfastly true to ahimsa (non-violence, non-harm) regardless of the violence in between groups, within society and between nation states. The practice of the intention not to cause suffering in these teachings and practices apply directly into daily life at every level.
Wars and Non-violence
Scholars estimate human beings have engaged in more than 12,000 wars in the past 5000 years – world wars, wars between nations, colonial wars, wars for occupation, civil wars and wars between nations and organisations.
United Nations estimate that around half a million scientists and engineers work in the armaments business to improve existing weapons and develope new ones to kill more people in efficient, effective and economically sustainable ways. About 50% of all UK government research goes into the military/defence industry and to export weapons to other nations. Exported to countries worldwide, these armaments take priority over offering the same nations a constructive approach to health care, education and support for the natural habitat of citizens and creatures.
Scientists, space researchers, biologists, geneticists, chemists and engineers work in the war industry, as well as millions of others who depend for their livelihood on their contracts. The military use businesses to provide employees with work. The military engages in research in universities. Millions depend for their livelihood, directly or indirectly on the military. Politicians preoccupy themselves with the short-term benefits rather than act to protect the long-term interests of people and planet.
Militarised nations train foreign armies to prepare for war. Armament, the army and scientists support the exploitation of economic growth, exploitation of diminishing resources, side-tracking of precious human resources and exploitation of fuels, energy consumption, electricity and petroleum.
Harsh realities remain hidden behind the pointless propaganda of globalisation and inter-dependent world. Armaments and conflicts inflame divisions obstructing co-operation and integration.
Nation states build up their sense of self-worth and self-esteem through the manufacture of the enemy to our way of life – labels in the past or present for the enemy include Communism, Russia, Arab nations and Islam. China seems probably next on the list. Western nations will manufacture China as the next global threat.
A war feeds into public fears stress and anxiety. The current invasion of Russia into Ukraine typifies the ongoing stress. We live in the Era of Uncertainty leaving us with a binary choice. Either we develop non-violence and coexist or develop violence and cease to exist, except to impart suffering on others and ourselves.
Thirty Alternatives to Prevent Wars or Stop wars
Analysis/critiques of state of mind of political leaders and their behaviour
Application of the Arts
Banning banking from countries engaged in war
Banning imports from countries engaged in war
Banning export of weapons
Critiques of war
Education in ethics, empathy and non-violence in schools, workplace and institutions
Ending participation in major sporting events
Grass roots movements
International cooperation to resolve conflict
Peaceful religious meetings/teachings/practical application of non-violence
Private Meetings between representatives of both sides
Sanctions on the rich/powerful
Importance of Non-violence
The most noble Gods of the Earth shared an unflinching devotion to non-violence. if a person decided to make a change in their life, he or she might consider mindfulness or meditation to embark on a spiritual way of life. They might check out other areas of interest – religion, a philosophy of life or spend much more time in the natural world.
Explore non-violence (Sanskrit: ahimsa). Keep your heart and mind open to its significance. We read of the importance of the non-judgemental mind. It is easy to forget support for war with its murder and infliction of suffering/trauma on men, women and children reveals the most judgemental mind imaginable. Know the difference between making a judgement and the judgemental mind. The latter arises to reactive impulses from the past.
Ahimsa has a greater outreach than prescriptive mindfulness. The application of non-violence calls upon us individually and collectively to find alternatives to war, violence, consumerism, abuse of animals and the violent destruction of the natural world.
Non-violence covers a range of areas including relationships with ourselves, loved ones, strangers and groups of people. It is important to remember that non-violence has an active dimension to it, calling upon us to resist violence, to speak up against violence and contribute to the transformation of violence wherever it is located.
Some find fault with non-violence as being extremist and dogmatic. Such views tend to ignore the extremism in the willingness and determination to destroy the life of others due to a reactive state of mind or identity with a group, such as the nation state.
A feature of a non-violent way of life includes cultivating a deep reverence for life. We reflect on what we regard as sacred, holy and spiritual. We undertake to stay true to this important principle.
This engagement ensures the challenge to demonstrations of violence in thought, word sand action. Respect for Ahimsa serves as a foundation as a principle based on love and wisdom. The duty of Ahimsa includes taking personal risk and facing danger in the face of violence.
We can avoid harmful intent during a single day while sitting walking, standing and reclining as well as talking, eating and other activities.
Violence reveals itself in what we think, say, write as well as our actions. It shows itself in a physical form such as punching, slapping, hurting, striking, knifing and more. There are expressions of abusive language and forms of behaviour impacting upon the dignity and wellbeing of others.
Institutions can develop habits of condoning violence whether it is in government offices, businesses, prisons and other organisations. We witness violence owing to conditions including racial discrimination, poverty, wealth, social hardship housing and lack of a caring support/ Turbulent emotions and intense thought contribute to violence.
Domestic violence takes place equally in the homes of the wealthy, middle classes and poor. This kind of violence does not belong to any class – the super wealthy, the rich, middle classes and poor can engage in the abuse of other children and adults, as well as harbour violent views against other due to identification with tendencies towards individuals or groups.
Far from being passive, non-violence requires full engagement and total commitment to resolving suffering, healing situations and transforming the world around us. This means non-violence stays vigilant rather than engage in revenge, desires to hurt and harm and use of judgemental and discriminatory language. We explore creative ways to connect with people, creatures and the environment.
Some people adopt the view human beings are fundamentally good and the universe is benign. Such views bear no significance to the practical philosophy of non-violence. These positive perceptions may project a warm view of essential goodness, but we cannot find ongoing, uninterrupted evidence for such views. The view that human beings display a fundamentally competitive struggle and biologically programmed for violence only confirms another extreme view. Social sciences and biological sciences promote extremism as much as conspiracy theorists.
Earth can never be a safe place to live when people grasp onto positive and negative standpoints. Such views obstruct the actuality of differences in human behaviours, society/cultures and lifestyles. An unshakeable reality reveals no human attributes, such as warm or a scientific reality that reality is cold.
Global heating, wars and consumerism confirm violence on a large scale exposing the vulnerabilities of the earth to human behaviour. Ahimsa teachings/practices do not rely upon conclusions about any underlying reality as its sets limits on the limitless.
Industrialised nations will spend billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to display power, control and domination in world affairs. The war economy promotes violence through wars, selling of arms and sewing divisions.
Application of non-violence applies to our major institutions including the military, police, political decisions, businesses in the public and private sector. Practices, self-knowledge and honest sharing of experiences contribute to dissolving violence in body, speech and mind.
Violence on Natural Habitats
Non-violent teachings remind us to look equally outside the dynamics of relationship between human beings. We tend to think of violence between humans, but we only have to look outside of this kind of relationship to be mindful of the violence of humans upon nature. For example. the massive deforestation of the Brazilian rainforests. This wilful destruction of the forests impacts on global weather patterns, loss of habitat for creatures and indigenous communities.
During 20th century in north-eastern Brazil, Western logging companies devastated the forests to export the hardwoods to Europe and North America making a staggering profit. Since the 1960s, cattle ranching became the leading reason behind deforestation. Grass grew long enough in thin soil for cattle to feed upon to meet the demands of the steak industry and fast-food chains.
Around 20% of the Brazilian rainforest has gone. That is about the size of California. The deforestation could reach 40% with a decade or two at the present rate with the speed of tree felling machinery.
This ongoing destruction contributes to altering the rainfall patterns resulting in droughts in the region and worldwide. Only two generations ago, Australians referred to their beautiful tropical rainforests as ‘bastard bush.” Deforestation took place to sell hardwood, cattle grazing and build towns. We have yet to witness a miracle in radical steps to protect the natural world.
Exploitation of the natural habitat continues unabated as the same rapacious desire continues among governments, corporations and consumers. The river only changes its movement through the tides. There is no signal for any tide of major change. Promises and assurances about change in the future express a classic avoidance mechanism of the powerful.
For ahimsa to function in a dysfunctional society, it requires a sincere respect for facts which lead immediately to compassionate action. Non-compassionate facts function to generate public debate without distracting leaders and the led from social and environmental change.
Projections into the future, such as zero carbons emmissions by 2050 have little relevance. Politicians who make such announcement will have finished for decades their time in office or forgotten. They have no accountability. These projections about the future bear no direct relationship to the unfoldment of things of past and present. The future serves as the biggest of the black holes for pointless speech. We witness a violence to truth, a violence to language and the violence of indifference.
Responsibility and Accountability
It is wearisome reading and listening to journalists, business leaders and politicians prliferating views and opinions undermining and violating the importance of root and branch change. The violence of the deceptive voice increases the levels of suffering. Responsibility and accountability seem in short supply in a world of lies, deceptions and false claims.
Powerful corporations pay enormous fees to lawyers to enable them to escape responsibility and accountability for their abuse of the trust consumers place in them for their products and services.
Advertisers manipulate public consciousness to sell goods via a mask of deception. Let us have the value of a dedicated commitment to honesty, staying in touch and grounded while staying true to action, non-violent and non-harming.
Living in a false reality erodes trust in each other. We do not need to proclaim and argue that all facts confirm truth. We acknowledge facts as we perceive them. Truth does have a transformative impact on ourselves and others. The principle of non-violence ensures we say or write serve a useful purpose – without containing violence.
If we find it too difficult to keep to this important principle, then we observe noble silence This approach to non-violence requires offering alternatives to aggressive behaviour.
Protection of our habitat includes massive reduction in the levels of pollution due to chemicals, plastic and bacteria growing in soil and water. We increase on a massive scale clean energy utilising the powers of the sun, wind and waves to replace oil, coal and nuclear power.
Violence represents a reverence for life through a dedicated commitment rather than a passive response.
The application of non-violence applies to features of daily existence with an encouragement to explore a wuse response to life. This commitment reveals empathy and compassion with a willingness to take risks in this endeavour.
For example. What do you wear? Is it an animal product? Do you spend money on fashionable clothes? Do you wear all your clothes? Do you know the impact of dyes, chemicals and products you wear?
Our non-violence shows respect for small creatures rather than deliberately snuffing out their existence if we find them in our home or in the garden.
We share with others the truth of a situation free from exaggeration, understatements, projections and falsehood. Non-violent speech remains an absence of aggression, gossip, backbiting, offensive comments and generalisations? Do we make irresponsible claims? Do we show arrogance and conceit with our views?
The speaker applies mindfulness to their words to ensure communication lacks intention to manipulate the mind of another, support harmful perceptions or deceive others. Unwise communication can stimulate fear, encourage hostility and trigger confusion. Lies and harmful views manipulate the feelings and thoughts of others or used to avoid accountability for what one did or failed to do. Such situations reveal a violence to language and a violence to reliable and trustworthy speech.
Much advertising focuses on stimulation of the senses, mostly eyes and ears. Advertisers aim to persuade customers to buy a product using coercive methodology to persuade potential customers to spend their money.
Social media often promotes itself as user friendly and community building, but these campaigns have two primary objectives – to maximise market share and maximise profit. These global organisations buy the attention of customers through regular adjustment of artificial intelligence making it a weapon of exploitation of needs of users.
The media will dig up stories about whistle-blowers to ruin their reputation or issue threats to ensure they have no credibility. Such stories usually revolve around abuse of power, sex or drugs or all three.
Violence of Consumerism
Violence reveals itself in abuse, exploitation and addiction to power. Bosses disregard the needs of workers, payments and working conditions in the craving to maximise profits. It is a form of violence on the lives of workers and their environment, indoors or outdoors.
Consumerism reveals addiction of consumers to short-lived pleasurable sensations through eyes, ears, nose, tongue and touch. Consumers will spend money on anything to repeat a momentary pleasing sensation through ownership of a product.
A Chinese boss of a factory commented the West will buy anything in its pathological addiction to shopping – souvenirs, luxury items, trivia and goods barely used after purchase. Consumers often experience more pleasure in having a major clear out in their homes of unwanted, used or unused items destined for landfill than the purchase.
The exploration of exploitation and a violent abuse of fossil fuels, land, water and air may show itself in the way we spend our money. What changes are willing to make to reduce our impact on the Earth and carbon footprint. Do we spend our money wisely on?
Here are 20 areas for consideration
3. Computers/mobile phones
11. Health Services
12. Household items
15. Office supplies
16. Personal Care
17. Shopping malls
20. Video Games
Society does not change through consumers making different choices but through direct action, collective protest and holding politicians and the corporate world accountability for the consequences of the blind pursuit of economic growth and increase in production. Such behaviour inflicts abuse and neglect on daily life of people, near and fire.
Violence in Factory Farms
Individuals, farms and business constantly use animals, birds and fish for entertainment and profit.
Factory farms exploit dairy cows as long as they produce milk and then afterwards send them to the abattoir for meat. Cows give birth to a calf on a regular basis in order to supply milk. Calves are removed their mother within an hour or two of birth. The separation generates anguish for both cow and calf.
Chickens live in windowless, climate-controlled sheds for around two or three months in extremely cramped and stress producing conditions. Farmers fatten the birds as quickly as possible before despatching them on the conveyor belt for execution. No filming of this cruel process is permitted.
Compassionate animal rights campaigners have tried unsuccessfully for decades to get laws passed for radical reform of these factory farms. Campaigners called upon laws to allow animals to spend time outdoors, to have easy access to water, put an end to artificial lighting and experience the opportunity for exercise.
Animals, birds and fish suffer in captivity whether on factory farms, sold in markets or endure ill-treatment as pets. It is not surprising that the combination of cruel treatment, overcrowded conditions obscene mass-produced food triggers immense stress to animals. Intense stress and vile living conditions can trigger diseases from animals and birds in captivity to humans.
Mad cow disease, bird flu, swine influenza, salmonella, monkey pox, dog flu, rat fever, bites and global pandemics show the vulnerability of humans becoming seriously from infectious animal diseases.
There is a painful cost to farm animals and birds as well as the cost of feeding them. If the land used to feed farm animals instead grew plant based food, it would be easy to feed the world’s hungry. Plant foods only require 20% of water needed to feed and clean farm animals.
Violence on animals for entertainment and profit
Animal lovers spend much time giving tender care to animals and other creatures on the earth, under the earth, in the air and water. Injury, disease, neglect and facing extinction triggers concern from thoughtful people wishing to nurse such creatures back to health and release them back into the wild. Such people provide a precious service to the animal kingdom.
Animal lovers become aware of the exploitation of animals for entertainment and profit, such as:
1. Amusement parks
2. Aquaria for dolphins and seals
5. Dog shows
6. Fish, large and small, kept in tanks for public viewing
7. Greyhound racing
8. Horse racing,
10. Marine shows
Dealers in animals and other creatures remove them from their natural habitat and place them in a different environment, restricted, controlled and stress producing. These animals often find themselves in climates in countries totally unsuitable for them. Freedom loving creatures find themselves living a life of imprisonment to their owners. If used for sport, they face intense training, injury and the abattoir.
The practice of non-violence supports a caring and compassionate way of life. You will have read references above to the need to develop non-violence and change of deception, abuse and exploitation.
The article make reference to war, economics, social violence, communication, factory farms, consumerism and abuse of animals.
To develop, you could consider going through carefully the central themes and listed points. See any changes you can make in your life. Find out about organisations, local or online, who engage in developing a non-violent voice to make changes to any kind of abuse.
You will find a quiet and contented voice within of being in the forefront of progressive change for the welfare of all including yourself. There is an integrity and dignity to a wise approach to all major interests
At every opportunity, listen to others. Some have gone deeply into issues.
Research. Read. Reflect and Apply.
Learn from thoughtful people.
With others, you can make a real difference.
Learn from other Agents of Change.
Be an Agent for Change.
Live a bold and noble way of life.
On behalf of people, creatures and the natural world, THANK YOU.