A Revolution in Human Relations

I was greatly inspired by this blog post, Transforming Troubled Schools by Robert C. Koehler. It is heartening to hear about progressive, alternative conflict resolution initiatives being implemented in schools. The lessons learned here can and should be applied to all areas of society. The broader idea is a revolutionary transformation in human relations.

Restorative Practices Circle http://coto2.wordpress.com

As human beings, we are all interconnected, part of the larger whole we call “society.” No individual’s action can be interpreted in isolation from its societal context. We need to move beyond the primitive idea of punishing “offenders” and realize that in so doing we are only perpetuating the cycles of crime, violence, poverty,etc. that hurt us all.

In order to do this, we have to be able to let go of the ego that assures us that we ourselves are “good” but others can be wholly “bad.” There is no such thing as a purely good or purely bad person, there are only good or bad actions (if that). When someone commits a crime and we label them as “a criminal,” we strip them of their humanity. This not only tends to lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy for the “criminal” but also hardens our own hearts and strengthens our egotistical belief that “we” are good and “they” are bad.

The ills of society are a product of society. In order to cure them, both the individual and the larger community must work together, with compassion and respect toward all involved parties. For too long, we have tried to quarantine evil—ignore it, deny it, ascribe it to something outside of ourselves. It is time to face our true nature, to see the good and the bad in ALL of us. This includes not only acknowledging our own faults but, perhaps more importantly, acknowledging the GOOD in our perceived “enemies.”

Peace will never be achieved by fighting “enemies” or punishing “criminals.” Those are relative terms, used to divide us. The only label we can use to describe ourselves in absolute terms, the one label that applies to us all, is “human.” Peace can only be achieved by respecting our common humanity and choosing to unite, rather than divide.

Ideology of Truth & Justice

I am a seeker of Truth and Justice. I will not put political ideology above either of those things. I will not defend someone who uses dishonest means, even if I agree with their ends. Propaganda is propaganda, no matter who spews it. Violence is violence, no matter who the victim. You reap what you sow. Simple as that.

I want a revolution. But if a revolution is based on violence, dishonest propaganda, and/or dogmatic ideology, I want no part of it. Because a TRUE revolution is one that has the courage and creativity to break free of the prescriptive chains of ideology. Anything less than that is just a change in regime. Do I think that some form of Socialism or Communism would be better for our world than Capitalism? Yes. Will I do “whatever it takes” to bring Socialism/Communism into being? No.

First off, such blind allegiance goes against my commitment to TRUTH. If all of my debates use a particular political ideology as a springboard, then I am not really seeking truth, I am only seeking to reaffirm my beliefs. Do I see truth in the theories of Communism? Yes. Will I continue to question them even as I attempt to bring them into action? Absolutely. Because all ideologies are flawed. And yet we all must live according to ideologies in one form or another. We are all guided by beliefs. But the question is, do we cling to our beliefs and ideologies as omnipotent, indestructible absolutes? Or do we use them to guide us towards an ever-evolving truth and understanding? I choose the latter.

This stance is not only consistent with my personal core value of seeking Truth but I also believe it is the only way to build a successful revolution. A legitimate revolution must come from the masses of people. The existing masses of people have a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs. In order to unite, we must respect each others’ opinions and work towards consensus. This includes listening to and considering the opinions of people we instinctively disagree with. Because no individual is in possession of complete or absolute truth. We must recognize and resist the tendency in ourselves to preach and to indoctrinate others to our beliefs. Our collective knowledge and creativity is what gives us strength. If we do not approach one another from a position of openness and humility, we cannot unite. It is not an easy task, but our humanity demands it.

Moreover, our humanity demands that we remain committed to JUSTICE. Committing to do “whatever it takes” to bring a particular political ideology into being goes against a commitment to justice. The ends do not justify the means. The intentional killing of another human being is never OK, in my opinion. So if it takes killing and oppressing “capitalists” in order to bring about a better system, I will not support it. We must find a way to break the cycle of violence that plagues our species. Oppressing our oppressors does not make us free, it just changes our role in the continuation of oppression.

Some say it can’t be done, non-violent revolution. I say that attitude is selling ourselves short. I say that attitude is cowardly and amoral. We must stick to our principles, even in the face of certain defeat. Because what is the worth of a victory gained by contradicting your own moral values? It is no victory at all, in my eyes. As Gandhi said, you must BE the change you wish to see in the world. When all human beings can BE what they say they wish the world to be, THAT will be the real revolution.

*I appreciatively welcome respectful comments, counter-arguments, and cooperative discussion.*