73 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 26 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/6/21

The Way Between

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Follow Me on Twitter     Message David Swanson
Become a Fan
  (139 fans)

For decades I and, no doubt, everybody else who points out the power and effectiveness of nonviolent action have had the endlessly recurring experience of being asked "But shouldn't people defend themselves with wars rather than do nothing?"

How did wars get to be the only alternative to nothing? If I were to run around shouting "Will you deny people the right to stick slugs up their noses rather than do NOTHING?" approximately 100% of people would think that was a crazier thing to say than that the only responses to violence are (1) mass murder, and (2) nothing. Here's a supposed peace activist last week hoping that if Canada manages to get itself attacked the U.S. will jump into the war.

It's as if there is an impenetrable forcefield around the human head keeping out knowledge of nonviolent action as being action, or indeed as being anything at all certainly as being more effective than violence. Repetition doesn't seem to work. Explanations bounce right off.

People can read books and watch movies and hear first-hand accounts of how boycotts and sit-ins and marches and disruptions and strikes and banner-drops and alternative media and rallies and mediation and all variety of creative, courageous actions have changed the world and turned back coups and invasions, and they can accept and acknowledge with neither a glimmer of surprise nor the least diminishment in their ability to go right on declaring war the one and only something that can ever be done.

But what if this forcefield isn't there at birth? What if it never develops at all in societies that don't teach violence? What if each little particle of it is created by every murderous cartoon or war-worshiping movie or subway weapons advertisement or lying history book or news report brought to you by missile makers? What if every exciting kids' book or young-person's adventure story that treats war and violence as the only way to have any real fun, every video game developed by the Pentagon, every sports league's paid pre-game war worship adds just a little speck to the forcefield until it's practically impenetrable?

What if a better approach to raising children than feeding them the muck that makes up war culture but instructing them to not play with guns, were to introduce them to a little peace culture? Kids who have read Rivera Sun's books have been spotted playing at peace-making. Having just read the first two books in a series of hers, I can see why.

In The Way Between, a girl trains in a non-martial art called the Way Between, an art that is physical and mental, about dodging punches, but also resolving disputes, as well as applying nonviolent pressure to systems of injustice. We're gripped by this girl's adventure from the opening lines:

"The Horns of Monk's Hand bellowed low and sonorous. Ari Ara skidded to a halt. As the deep tones rolled around the echoing bowl of the valley, the girl's blue-grey eyes traced the sound back to the stone-carved monastery far below. . . ."

The Way Between and its sequels are set in a fantasy world of great magic and limited technology, yet what happens there makes sense on its own terms and as a guide to what might happen here. In fact, the story follows real-world examples of nonviolent action campaigns much more faithfully than most violent tales follow anything that ever has happened or could happen on earth.

Ari Ara has grown up illiterate in the mountains. Her humor and rebelliousness can be glimpsed in the following instance of her getting out of writing an assignment in class. Asked to read her essay, she replies:

"I didn't do it."

He demanded an explanation.

"It was a matter of life and death," she answered.

"Oh?" he retorted, unconvinced.

"Yes," Ari Ara replied, lifting her pointed chin. "I thought I'd die of boredom if I did it."

The story has many twists and turns and I'd rather not give any of them away. The richness of the lessons in peace-making increases in the second installment, The Lost Heir. There are enemies in this story, but the problem is understood as not arising from the evil of one side, rather from the enmity itself. The problem is the institution of war, not one of its participants. If Ari Ara develops personal enemies, it is not because they come from evil families or nations, and the need is not to humiliate or kill them but to transform them into something other than enemies.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

David Swanson Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Obama's Open Forum Opens Possibilities

Public Forum Planned on Vermont Proposal to Arrest Bush and Cheney

Feith Dares Obama to Enforce the Law

Did Bush Sr. Kill Kennedy and Frame Nixon?

Can You Hold These 12 Guns? Don't Shoot Any Palestinians. Wink. Wink.

Eleven Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend