Culture & Lifestyle


Teaching Children Nonviolence

Posted 20 months ago|17 comments|450 views
Arun Ghandi
Written by
Eugene, OR
I listened to Arun Ghandi (a grandson of Mahatma) speak at Lane Community College on Feb. 21st. He spoke about how violent our society is, in the sports, the movies, and the rest of the media. He doesn't understand American's obsession with guns. He gave us a glimpse into how he was taught about non violence.

He was a bit mischievous when young so his parents sent him to live with his grandfather for a couple of years. Mahatma asked him to keep track of all of the times each day when he was violent physically and verbally. He soon found that it was easy to refrain from physical acts of violence, and those were few, but that verbal acts of violence were much more common and harder to quell.

At home his parents didn't discipline him physically. If the children did something wrong they figured that was because they had done something wrong in raising and teaching the child so the parents would do some penance whenever the child misbehaved. When the child learned that the parents were fasting (or whatever) because of what they had done they felt much remorse and tried to behave so the parents wouldn't suffer.

Arun told the story of when he was older and could drive the car. His father was going into town for a meeting and Arun asked to go along. At that time a trip to town was a big deal. Since he was going to be free in town, his mother asked him to do some shopping and his father asked him to take the car to the garage and have it serviced. He dropped his father off at his meeting and his father said he would be done at 5:00 and said he would be waiting to be picked up then. Arun did allof his shopping, dropped off the car to be serviced and had time to see a movie, but he got so engrossed in the John Wayne movie that he didn't realize how late it had grown. He got out at 5:30. He quickly picked up the car and met his father at 6:00 - an hour late.

When he arrived his father asked why he was late. Arun was ashamed that he had lost track of time in the movies and so he lied and said the car hadn't been ready. Unfortunately his father had called up the garage and found out the car was done but Arun hadn't picked it up yet. His father said that he must have done something wrong if his son felt that he had to lie to him, so he said that he wouldn't drive home in the car, he would walk the 18 miles home. Arun had to drive the car all the way home, crawling along at 2 mph while his father walked, and after that Arun swore to himself that he would never lie again.

Arun told another story about a king that asked his wise man the secret to peace. The wise man said their was a holy man out in the country who could help the king but he was so old that he couldn't come to court. The king would have to go see the holy man. So the king traveled far out to the country and visited the holy man. He asked him the secret of peace, and when he did the holy man without saying anything left and went into another room. He came back and gave the king a single grain of wheat. This is the secret of peace he said.

The king was ashamed to admit that he didn't know what the holy man meant so didn't ask any questions. He returned back to his castle and put the single grain in a little golden box. He asked his wise man what the grain of wheat meant.

The wise man said that if the king kept the grain in the box it would eventually rot away and be useless. But if he took it out into the garden and planted it, it would grow up and the adult plant would have seeds that he could plant and soon he would have a whole field of wheat. He could then take the many seeds and give them to his subjects, they could do the same and soon the entire nation would be prosperous and at peace.

Arun said that he didn't expect to change everyone's minds, but that he was happy spreading his stories of peace and nonviolence around the world, and if a few people out of every hundred or so bore fruit he would be satisfied.

Arun said that his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, believed that love, respect, understanding and compassion are the four pillars on which all religions stand. He said his grandfather made a respectful study of all religions and determined that the goals of all religions are the same. The goal is to get to the mountain top, but there are many different paths to get there. Every religion has a small part of the truth, and each religion thinks that they have the whole truth, but none of them do. The path you take is not important, but the journey is.

Mahatma Ghandi believed that the way to form a new social order was Political and economic decentralization, to prevent massive concentrations of power in the hands of too few. The minimization of competition and exploitation, and instead, the encouragement of cooperation. Production on the basis of need rather than greed, Recognition of the dignity of labor, The practice of extensive self-reliance by individuals, villages, regions and the nation. Absence of oppression on the basis of race, caste, class, language, gender or religion, and a deep respect for mother nature, necessitating an economic system based upon the preservation rather than destruction of the natural environment.
20 months ago: I loved the stories, Al.
Keeping track of violent behavior for every individual can work.
Violence is done at times, and not even realized that it is hurting another person. It can become a daily routine, habit forming, and abusive .
Writing it down could help a person control themselves and bring about peace.
You are right the journey is important.
20 months ago: I am more about teaching them of violence, what it is, what it does. "Negative" emotions are apart of us and it is alright to feel them. How you react to them is the important part. You need to have constructive rather then destructive outlets for it. Internalizing or attempting to push them out is a very bad idea, these things are part of us.

You metaphorically build a dam inside yourself with a ever filling force behind it. Eventually it will break, when it does, you end up with a sniper on a roof top. Or someone who injures a lot of people around them.

Both with verbal and physical explosions you can do a lot damage to those you care about and even strangers. You have to accept that these things are a part of you and learn to let them out in constructive ways. Which achieves balance between your negative and positive elements in your personality.

Once you have balance in yourself it cascades into everything. You will be happier, healthier and have a much more fulfilling life. Not because you are doing anything vastly different then before. But because you can truly enjoy the things you do and take the achievement for what it is. It also put things into perspective for you between what does matter and what ultimately doesn't matter.

You will have less social anxieties about your job/career, keeping up with the trends in technology and the like. Because your will realize these things will not make you happy. Your happiness begins and ends with yourself, only you have that key to that lock. Having balance is only a step in that direction. If you can take it you will be on a path to accepting yourself for who and what you are. It will lead to improvements in your personal life. You also will not have kids killing themselves over nothing.
20 months ago: That might work on those young people who have someone to teach them like yourself Not all of them will have this privelege. You need someone to lean on when you have negative feelings so that you know who your are and you don't have to internalize.
When I grew up, I loved my country, my friends, my job. I had hope and looked forward to the future. You find after a while your friends leave, jobs are hard to get, your country is in a mess. I am still optimistic though but in another way. When there is a lot of meaness around that is hard to deal with. I separated myself from it so it wouldn't rub off on me.
I had parents to lean on and support me when I had something I had to deal with.
I never felt that I wanted to hurt anyone or had any violent tendencies to begin with. I don't have negative feelings, my family never did.
I like the story Al told about the child lying to his father and the father saying tht he himself must of done something wrong for his child to lie to him.
Everything is in the raising.
20 months ago: I didn't learn from a single source Sunny, I did have influential people in life whom taught me things. Those bits of instruction became the whole: philosophy, martial training, fine art, music, video games, instructional cartoons, different religions and mentors. All these things over my life developed my philosophies. We all have a tool chest that we fill with tools and bits of knowledge for things that work for us individually. Kids will get there, they just need us to adjust some of the garbage that has started to junk up our system.
20 months ago: You were fortunate.
My family did it for me.
I grew up with family values.
They were always there for me. I was lucky.
20 months ago: I do not consider myself fortunate Sunny. I know life is made up of choices, we can choose to do better and we can choose to not do the things that are hurting us. All it takes is effort and time. You get out what you put in, no one can do it for you. It is your life to live, you can learn from those who came before you. Or you can ignore it and go your own way... it is all a choice.
20 months ago: I think I have made good choices. That's the whole difference in how your life will turn out by making good choices as you said yourself. I still work for everything. I'll never quit trying to make life better. I know people who sit back and expect, I don't. They feel that they are owed if you have a little more. They don't care how hard you work and how much time and effort you put into something. It's all give it to me because I want it. I never let myself be pulled down into total stark reality without looking for some of the magic that life brings.
I think you are fortunate.
20 months ago: Talent can take you places, but hard work can take you anywhere you want to go. I know my family in my sisters generation all think that way and many of the "kids" I have worked with over the years. Also why we have to teach them with the good and the bad.

I remember a boxer who had talent. He fought with a guy that made his way through hard work. The kid quit on his corner mid round three, ran out of gas. His corner was trying to give him instructions. He never taught the kid what to do when you are tired and on the ropes. Or the drive to keep going when faced with adversity and a up hill climb. The kid completely stopped and got out of the ring 2/3rds through round four of a 5 round bout.

He never went back to the ring after that and quit a few months later. We were all very sad for the trainer. He had been working with the kid for 2 and a half years. He was just getting ready to graduate from amateur to professional. That 5 round bout was against a pro fighter to give him some experience before he started working up the rankings.

The point though is that you have to teach kids everything and not just the areas we want them to know about. It isn't the things they know about that will hurt them. It will be that right hook to the ear that will drop them. Even my sister told me she isn't going to get my nephew a pet. Because the pet will eventually die and she doesn't want him to have to face loss or have to deal with any form of loss in his life.

Even when I explained to her he will feel loss in changing schools, missing friends, parting ways with a good teacher, loss of family members. He will experience these things and if she doesn't talking to him about these things she will impair his ability to function as a adult. It went on deaf ears though, her eyes glazed over and she made all the motions of hearing me without actually listening. She always has to learn the hard way.
19 months ago: Mine had good teachers outside of school that made great mentors.
I think of them now and miss them terribly.
They were very optimistic and intelligent people.
Most lived in NYC.
19 months ago: I like that term "tool chest".
There are kids that no one is there for them who cares enough.
I feel bad for kids that try so hard and have nobody there for them, and you can look in their faces and see that they want that hope and that chance.
There was a young boy who lived in my Town and he was an ordinary street kid. Didn't have much but every time he saw me walking with my little one, he would smile and step up and say hello making an attempt at being neighborly and dignified in his mannerism. He would act like a gentlemen, and I would always say hello. Neighbors would say don't look at him or talk to him. I thought that was so cold.
I always felt bad for this kid. I hope things turned out for him.
20 months ago: What you said here is so true:
You metaphorically build a dam inside yourself ......

These people that are lost with no one there to help them are doomed.

New York, NY
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20 months ago: Al, is this mlkj027 a virus?
Eugene, OR
20 months ago: No idea Sunny. Glad someone is watching the store though.

Both of you folk seem to have been raised well. It shows the importance of having good family. If a single parent extended family can help.

Native Americans often let the grand parents raise the kids so they can bestow some of the wisdom they have accumulated.

Nethel it sounds like you use boxing as a constructive outlet, but I don't really consider beating the crud out of other people as being non destructive. Don't think Ghandi would approve either. I worry about the damage being done to everyone's brains.

One of my favorite books is The Power of One, a novel by Australian author Bryce Courtenay. This hero is orphaned but mentored by some remarkable people, and he ends up winning a boxing championship and also aiding the end of Apartheid in South Africa.
20 months ago: None actually, spars are done in full protective gear. Helmet, large gloves, chest armor. 85% of the training isn't sparing but physical work outs, shadow boxing and heavy bag drills for combinations. Most of the ring work is with a trainer using the full gear and focus mit. Granted you will get a cuff upside the head from the trainer if you fail to keep your hands up in the defense position, but it is just a physical reminder if you are failing to heed the verbal one.

Amateur legal also uses the helmet, it isn't until you hit the pro level you start fighting without one. Boxing is like any other intensive physical activity to train your body. Just most people only see the end results (the match) and not the years of prep training and the focus training leading up to the match. For us the match started 3-6 months prior ;) You also do not get to see the sportsmanship that goes with it and comradeship with fellow athletes.
20 months ago: Thanks, Al. You also were raised well.
Anybody can tell that, especially when you help others.
Wisdom is essential in making it through.
You can get through just about anything with it, and we owe to our kids to guide them. It's everyone else that doesn't have it that you have to constantly worry about. They are the ones that cause most f the problems.

20 months ago: "Shaming" a child to feel guilt for the perceived failure of the adult could be considered child abuse.
Huey Newton
Huey Newton
19 months ago:
The philosophy is simple - "Don't start none, won't be none."

As much as some folks HATE Jesus, that's the "Golden Rule" that so many folks claim to subscribe, ain't it?

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