Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Making Violence Obsolete Project To Challenge U.S. “Subtle Violence” Patterns

We did it!  In a smallish, cozy group of handpicked participants we made a beginning with our “informal” launch of New Horizons’ “Making Violence Obsolete” project and its parallel Counterculture Community Development Experiment last Saturday afternoon. 

Into the early evening we continued, as once we got started people just seemed to want to talk and talk. They had found a handful of likeminded others with whom they could speak of some of their hopes and dreams, sharing – and – unburdening themselves about the state of our nation in these turbulent times.
"Subtle violence" isn't so
subtle when you're
the target.

The “Making Violence Obsolete” project had shown up at just the right time with a plan as to how to right the societal and political ills we are facing.  As for me the reality of the event exceeded my dreams. An exchange such as the one below was enough to lift my spirits!

Seminar participant: “Ok (some were heard to ask), “So you are a dreamer who can envision a future, somewhere off in the far distance, where violence could, ideally, be unnecessary, but what about today? Just look at the mess we are in. Turn on the television, surf the web.  We are living in a nightmare right now!”

“What do you suggest we do next?”

Anastasia: “Well, said I,  at New Horizons we set our minds and hearts to being exceptional leaders, intent on eliminating “subtle violence” every day in every way we can! We make a start with that which is right in front of our faces in our closest relationships, our friends and family, our neighborhoods and our local communities.

In other words, we follow the words of Mahatma Gandhi, regarding building a peaceful world, when he said – 
“We do best to begin by carving out territories or zones of peace in our personal relations where violence and deceit won’t be used.”
One way we do this, at New Horizons, is by paying more and more attention to the “subtle violence” around us. The subtle violence we do by minimizing or ignoring smallish details about one another and circumstances around us (i.e called “discounting” in the language of Transactional Analysis (TA), my home base theoretical foundation as a psychotherapist). In this way we begin righting the slights right in front of our eyes.

In other words, we take a proactive position regarding the harmony we build, or lack thereof, with those closest to us  To us, this is how we participate in “thinking globally, acting local.” Thus we can begin to make an impact that can make a difference, sometimes almost immediately. To do otherwise is, frequently, to plant seeds of both subtle -- and -- potentially lethal violence.

For example, picture a child growing up in a home with outragous behavior on the part of adults due to mental illness, drug and/or alcohol addiction or domestic violence. Even if he or she is not physically abused, the "subtle violence" inflicted on her/him in that environment is seriously damaging.  And, has the potential to breed, in that child, future violence of both kinds, subtle and not so subtle. 

Ask me, I know. The deep and lasting damage inflicted on me through the subtle and not so sublte violence I experienced as a child due to my mother's mental illness affects me to this day, Not in the form of chemical addictions or violence in my life but in the wide range of "survival driven behaviors" that I have taken on at various periods of my life that have hurt me internally, body, mind and spirit, and have, at times, affected my loved ones. 

The way that ideal is implemented in our most impactful programs of today and yesterday, known as the “old” New Horizons “Total Learning Environment Concept,” a counterculture development approach , is set forth by the following rule and set of guidelines that has made New Horizons famous in certain circles and possibly notorious in others.

(circa 1973 – 1998)

No Emotional/Psychological Abuse of NHC Participants or Staff (i.e. “subtle violence” = emotional abuse and discounting)
  • If anyone informs you that they “feel abused” (or “discounted = subtle violence”) by you, you must stop whatever you are doing – and –
  • Discover what you are doing that “feels abusive” or “discounting” to the other person;
  • Discover what you could do instead that behavior that has been identified as “feeling abusive” or “discounting” to others.
Imagine living in a world where people adhere to such practices; a world free of “subtle violence,” a world on its way to deterring bloody, bruising, mortal violence. 

Don’t you think that heading in that direction might be well worth the effort, even if you never live to see it fully realized? I’ve been on this pathway, striving for "discount-free" living for more than forty years. I discovered it to be the most viable way for me to heal from the past damage done to me and build my joy and health as big as I can make it! I haven’t arrived at the destination yet but I wouldn’t have had my journey be otherwise

More to come.

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