Non-Violence and the Greater Good (Part 2)

By Linda Fisher Thornton

In Part 1 of a previously published article I wrote for the Non-Violent Change Journal, I showed how we can think about violence in terms of the principle “Do Good Without Doing Harm.” This week we continue with the second part of that article that addresses moving past violence and finding the way forward.

Seeing Violence in an Ethical Context

As we reflect on violence in an ethical context, we realize that it does not support the fundamental ethical principles of care, service or doing good without doing harm. It does not honor people and communities, and it does not create a better world.

Nonviolence provides a higher order mindset that helps us provide lasting solutions to global problems. In the process of human development, we reach a point when we become increasingly concerned about our impact on others and society. We begin to consider our impact more broadly and use a long-term perspective when we approach problems. We outgrow the notion that expedient violence will solve our problems. As John Lennon once remarked “I am a violent man who has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence.6

The Way Forward

Lashing out at others is one way to deal with our problems, but thankfully as we progress in our human development we learn that violence is only a short term solution that leads to further escalation of violence.

Violence isn’t the right path to take when we don’t agree. There are far better (and more lasting) ways to work out differences in goals and perspectives than lashing out impulsively and inflicting harm on those we don’t agree with. We need to be sharing strategies and techniques for how to move past violence, and we need positive role models we can emulate and look to for guidance.

It is time to take the more difficult, yet also more rewarding and more enduring, nonviolent path to resolving our differences.

End Notes

6. John Lennon Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved January 22, 2014, from

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