Ahimsa 2: Words of Peace

We are lucky in this century because many of us have come to the realization that violence just does not work. We see that a violent way of life has not brought peace or prosperity, to those who perpetuate it, or the victims, or the innocent bystanders. The consequences of a violent way of life is death. And nobody wants to die a violent death – whether it is being blown to pieces, tortured emotionally or cast aside because of discriminations. In this new century, we are aware that violence fails, and as individuals and communities, we look for alternate ways to living with violence. We want a peaceful way of life so that we can be creative, raise our children well and live meaningfully. Thus it becomes increasingly important that we look for creative ways of living without violence.

Friends of mine who have small children who have thought about this for a while, put up a red violence box on their dining table. Anyone who expressed violent words, actions or even showed it in their face had to put a five rupee coin into the box. The second time offender put in ten rupees and thereafter the rates increased. The idea was not just that violence was to be penalized, but that the offender had to find a gentler solution to the violence. At first it was a game to see who put in the most, but as the days went on, and the children grew older, being kind and gentle and fair - all ahimsa qualities - took on their own importance.

In my own family, soon after my husband died, our family seemed to be splitting apart. Each of us carried a load of grief, anger, anxiety about the future and insecurity within us. Each of us had different ways of expressing these feelings and as we all lived under the same roof, life was either explosive or icy. I discovered that to keep a family together, there were certain words that needed to be put into our daily vocabulary and used as often as possible. As a strong believer in the power of ahimsa, and with deep faith in what I call “ahimsa words,” I began to try them out.

The words were:

I’m sorry.
Forgive me
Thank you.
That was great/wonderful.
Bless you for helping me.
I really appreciate this
Please can you……….

Initially, the words came from our lips. We realized that we cannot say these words only from our lips for long. They started moving down into our hearts slowly and began to take root there. Once they were rooted in our hearts, a smile crept in with the words. Then an action to accompany the words glued us together and brought much joy and warmth into our relationship.

Just us ahimsa words are important in a family, they are equally important in schools and work communities. Too often, violence in the form of words is practiced. Words that are hurtful and cold, or words that demean or threaten or leave others feeling anxious and insecure.

“Can’t you do anything right?”

“Stupid”

“Jerk”

“Useless fellow”

“ Fool”

When we use such mean words, our actions also become hurtful. Just as they can build or destroy a family, they can do the same to a work place. Ahimsa words bring hope, comfort, insight, and offer new perspectives. They heal, unite, calm and strengthen. Particularly with children, ahimsa words bring security, allow them to blossom creatively and grow with both the knowledge and experience of non violence.

We need to use ahimsa words as often as we can, to as many people as we can. We cannot say, “ that’s great,” or “thank you” or “bless you” without it affecting both the one who says it, and the one to whom it is said.

The more we use these words, the more they take root in our hearts. Words spoken from the heart create new life and deepen relationships. Sooner or later, such words also translate into actions that build and preserve homes, schools work places and communities.

Living the ahimsa way takes enormous inner strength and self discipline. It means being alert to what we say, how we say it and the tone we use. It also means not reacting to the meanness others throw at us, and instead using words that show friendship, commitment and love.

As we journey through different aspects of the ahimsa life, it would be nice to hear stories of how other families practice non violent living. Ahimsa stories inspire and encourage us. They also show us that more people live the ahimsa way than the himsa way. So if are an ahimsa person and wish to share your story, email the writer at ushajesudasan@gmail.com