As a proponent of non-violence and non-adversarial methods of getting to justice, I spend a lot of time looking around me, glancing within and recognizing the violent impulses that I too have to dismantle and unlearn that obviously emanate from living in a violent world.

On our mediation training programs one of the first things we do is a bit of soul searching. We ask ourselves the big question: am I violent? We are invited to take a few steps back and think, really think about this.

Do I entertain violent thoughts?

Do I use violent words?

Do I ever act out violently? Violence is not limited to punching someone in the face or stabbing someone in the heart. No. Violence lives on a spectrum.

Do I ever use anger to subdue or control others?

Have I ever put my foot down on the accelerator in a rage and with passengers in my car?

Do I call people names?

Do I ever intentionally or recklessly cause others to feel “less than” or humiliated?

All of these things are born out of violent impulse that we have learned to use to survive or to navigate the world around us. There is plenty more I can add to the list.

But as a would be mediator or even as a seasoned mediator, this is one of the most crucial journeys we can go on. The journey of “am I violent” and “in what way am I violent?”. We cannot obliterate violent impulse in an instant. What we can do is be aware and go about intentionally limiting the permission we give ourselves to think violently, speak violently and act out in violent ways.

And it’s one of the most powerful ways we can go about building peace in the world around us.


Sheena Jonker

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