Structural Violence: Daily Metta

Michael Nagler Posted by Michael Nagler.

Michael is founder and president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and the author of Our Spiritual Crisis and The Search for a Nonviolent Future, which received a 2002 American Book Award and has been translated into several languages.

Structural Violence: Daily Metta

“I am satisfied that many Englishmen and Indian officials honestly believe that that they are administering one of the best systems devised in the world . . .” ~ Ronald Duncan, Selected Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 144

A well-known admonition of the Buddha was na hante, na hanyate, the wise one “will not kill, or cause to kill.” I believe it was the famous peace researcher Johan Galtung who coined the modern equivalent: “structural violence.” Direct violence hurts directly, but structural violence—the injuriousness built into a structural system, e.g. lopsided taxation or a “poverty draft” where enlistment is the only hope for a poor person—hurts much more, in the end, and is the more difficult to get rid of. While Gandhi goes on to call the British-built governance structure of colonized India “a subtle but effective system of terrorism,” many a participant was blind to what he or she was doing through it. (A bit like a modern drone operator?). It is always dangerous when people do not or cannot take responsibility for their actions.

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Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence.

Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide.

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