The practice of nonviolence

Lisa Yates, Editor

This week I intended to write on another subject fearing readers would think I turned all hippy-dippy if I wrote another column about peace, love and gratitude. Indulge me as I write on the subject of nonviolence. I feel it’s especially relevant given our nation is struggling to cope with the tragedy that unfolded at a Denver-area theater last Friday.

Friday's massacre has been called the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. It was reported that at least two people were killed and about 50 wounded in a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo. near Denver. The suspected shooter, James Holmes, 24, was arrested outside the theater. Witnesses said the shooter barged into the theater shortly after the movie started, threw a canister of tear gas and then opened fire, only stopping to reload.

This is an extreme example of violence, but it’s only one type.

We commit an act of violence every time we yell at someone, wish someone harm or even gossip about a person’s flaws behind his or her back. This is mental violence.

One of my favorite authors Louise Hay said jokingly that when she decided to give up gossiping, she found she had nothing to talk about.

Remember the lively art of polite conversation? Sadly, it’s a dying art, especially with emailing and text messaging becoming the dominate form of communication. It’s so much easier to behave rudely through technology.

When we gossip and judge other people for not living up to our expectations, we aren’t being kind. We are being mean and judgmental. In short, we are committing mental acts of violence.

I’m not saying that mental acts of violence are directly linked to physical acts of violence, but where do physical acts of violence originate?

On Twitter, I read this quote by Cleveland Amory: “What this world needs is a new kind of army – the army of the kind.”

I so agree.

Let’s start our nonviolence practice by being kind to ourselves.

We inflict violence on ourselves not only when we cause harm to our own bodies, such as when we smoke or overeat, but also when we berate ourselves for a mistake or think negatively about ourselves.

Do you have negative thoughts about yourself that cause anxiety, stress and depression? If so, please seek medical attention. There is help available.

We all belong to the same humanity and deserve kindness. Practice nonviolence towards yourself and others. We can be the new army – the army of the kind.

Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.