Kingian Nonviolence is a tool for personal and social change, a new lens to view conflict through and a dynamic means to create a more harmonious society. Nonviolence shines as a third force that rises above the two extremes of violence and passivity. In recent history, Nonviolence has come to be recognized as a significant alternative for groups, communities and whole societies to effectively deal with the conditions they face locally, nationally and internationally.
The approach of Kingian Nonviolence depends not on major material or technological instruments, but utilizes skills and methodologies. Nonviolence is positive, powerful, and effective because it calls forth the very best in human spirituality and intelligence from the people or groups that use it.
In reflecting on his own experiences, Dr. King was impressed not by the strength and accomplishments of the masses, but by the capacity of a small group committed to Nonviolence to create positive change when faced by large problems. Kingian Nonviolence is thus a strategic path to justice and personal growth defined by creating win-win situations rather then defeating supposed enemies. Furthermore Kingian Nonviolence is rooted in the dynamic power of love and is legitimized by the means of action being aligned with the end goal.*
Highlighted below are the "will" and the "skill" components of Kingian Nonviolence. The Six Principles serving as the moral compass and philosophical grounding while the Six Steps provide tactful means to address conflicts and problems:
Six Principles of Kingian Nonviolence
1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people: Nonviolence is a weapon for people with strength of character who wage combat with moral and spiritual forces
2. The Beloved Community is the framework for the future: The goal is not to humiliate the opponent but to win the opponent over to a new view and new pattern of behavior. Every human-being can contribute to change.
3. Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil: The Nonviolence approach helps one analyze the fundamental conditions, policies and practices of the conflict rather than reacting to one’s opponents or their personalities.
4. Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve a goal: Willingness to endure hardship for a clearly defined cause can have an impact on the oppressor as well as on the larger community.
5. Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence: Our actions and the extent to which we practice the philosophy of nonviolence are dictated by our attitudes, which in turn are communicated through our actions.
6. The universe is on the side of justice: Human society is oriented to a just sense of order in the universe. Nonviolence is in tune with this concept, and the movement must strike this chord in society.
Six Steps of Nonviolence
1. Information Gathering: Becoming attuned to all the cultural, political and economic factors that influence the opponent’s behavior will increase your ability to develop a strategically effective action.
2. Education: Raise the level of understanding of the problem so that proposed solutions are logical and supportive.
3. Personal Commitment: Involves self examining all the ways that one may have helped perpetuate an unjust situation or where one has failed to use nonviolence analysis.
4. Negotiation: Preparation for negotiation includes a thorough understanding of all side of an issue and the possible alternatives for making a persuasive argument.
5. Direct Action: Firstly, to take responsibility to intervene in an unjust situation and second, to take direct action having concluded that negotiation has failed to resolve the problem.
6. Reconciliation: The goal of the movement is a reconciled world. Thus so that opponents and proponents can move together to tackle larger issues.
Kingian Nonviolence: Fulfilling Dr. King’s Dream
On the morning of his death Dr. Martin Luther King expressed to Dr. Bernard LaFayette, one of the Southern Christian Leadership Council’s top administrators, that the next step in the movement must be to institutionalize and internationalize the philosophy and practice of Nonviolence. With the creation of the Kingian Nonviolence training program, this last wish of Dr. King’s is being fulfilled.
In 1995 the Kingian Nonviolence curriculum was developed by Dr. Bernard LaFeyette and David Jehnsen, both of whom were trained in the techniques of education at Harvard University. The foundation of the curriculum is a two-day intensive training that utilizes adult education techniques, is highly interactive and looks to build leadership qualities amongst participants. Since the creation of the Kingian Nonviolence training program, thousands of workshops have been carried out around the world in classrooms, churches, prisons, community centers and police headquarters.
Every summer the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies holds a two-week intensive program to certify individuals to become Level I Kingian Nonviolence Trainers and equip them to lead the two-day program. The University also offers a Level II Kingian Nonviolence certification that focuses on the broader aspects of Nonviolence and leadership. Level III certification is granted when one creates a sustainable Kingian Nonviolence Center. These trainings which are led by Dr. LaFayette and other experts in Nonviolence, draw people from around the globe who subsequently bring Kingian Nonviolence to their countries and communities. In recent years Level I trainings have also been organized in Tucson, Arizona and Hartford, Connecticut and the hope is to bring back Dr. LaFeyette to Arizona in 2011.
Internationally, Kingian Nonviolence programs have been instituted in a number of nations including Mexico, Hungary, Palestine, Israel, Cuba, Haiti, Colombia, South Africa and Nigeria, where over 20,000 ex-militants are being trained in Kingian Nonviolence as part of that country’s amnesty program. Overall, through a program that focuses on developing Kingian Nonviolence trainers and leaders, a sustainable worldwide movement has been created to introduce people of all ages and backgrounds to the invaluable practices and courageous way of life which is Nonviolence.
Training a substantial number of people of a community, no matter how small or large, in the use of nonviolence provides for better alternatives to violence for resolving conflicts. The goal of nonviolence conflict reconciliation is justice, a win/win solution rather than a win/lose situation. The nonviolence approach reduces both the financial and human costs in managing conflicts and promotes reconciliation. Nonviolent solutions not only preserve the dignity of conflicting parties, but also elevate the relationship between the opponents to one of cooperation and understanding, in which they jointly implement change and celebrate victory.
-Excerpt from the Nonviolence Briefing Booklet
*Contains excerts from: Bernard LaFayette and David Jehnsen. The Leaders Manual: A Structured Guide and Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence. 1995