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The Transforming Power of Nonviolence

Written by Lauren, IJPC Intern

IJPC staff and interns recently had the opportunity to attend a training hosted by the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). AVP is an international organization focused on spreading the philosophy of nonviolence. Over the course of the weekend, we were able to think introspectively about the ways in which we aid or dismantle systems of violence in our daily lives. When preparing for this experience, we discussed the significance of attending the training as an office, since nonviolence is a central tenant of our mission.

One of the greatest takeaways I left the training with was a more heartfelt appreciation for intentional conversations and verbal de-escalation techniques. Conversations are often a place where I find violence in my life. Prior to this workshop, violence and nonviolence had very clear appearances and were easily identifiable. Usually we think of violence as something physical, something that we see. But it can also be something we hear. Even without obvious physically violent acts, the way that we use language and communicate can escalate a situation and even put people in danger. Words have the ability to cause trauma and inhibit healthy dialogue.

AVP highlights the philosophy of “transforming power,” which emphasizes the ability for any situation to be molded into nonviolent one, through our words and actions. AVP outlines twelve components of transforming power, but the two that stood out to me the most were, “Reach for that something good in others,” and “Listen before making judgments.” When thinking about the everyday interactions, the ones with the most violent language could be overcome with these tools.

Over the course of the weekend, I learned that nonviolence is not only a strategy to be used in order to make situations more peaceful, but it also can be used as a method of bringing communities closer together. Transforming power is capable of shaping narratives, changing cultures, and encouraging positive change in a society. We are excited to have spent this time learning with one another and we are all eager to implement what we learned into the work that IJPC is doing already.