Stories of Nonviolence:
Truth ~ A Stepping-stone to Reclaiming Spirit
As we sit in meditation during this Season for Nonviolence, let us envision a grid of Unconditional Love encircling our Globe, supporting all those individuals and organizations working to make nonviolence our planet’s operating principle.
No one can live without their spirit! This was the wisdom the Native American Elders offered Chethlahe as they counseled him to call his spirit back from the memory of the torture he experienced in world War II. And whether we can vocalize it or not, it is a wisdom that we all instinctively feel in the core of our beings.
‘I couldn’t take it [the torture rooms]… so I had to remove my soul and my spirit and put it in a corner. I wish to go back to collect my soul, for the real Thandi is still there in the corner; the Thandi that is talking and moving is not the real Thandi.’
– Thandi Shezi, South African woman.
But in those torture rooms, Ms. Shezi was not the only one whose psyche was traumatized, for those who carried out the torture had to suppress their own humanity in order to be cruel and violent, and in so doing, they traumatized themselves ~ they too put their spirits in a corner. So they too need to heal the wounds to their psyche, and they too need the transforming experience of calling back their spirits from that past trauma if they are to live a full and authentic life.
In the aftermath of apartheid, two very different men made choices that opened them up to a transforming experience of calling their spirits back, of moving past hate and entrenched animosity and hostility to an experience of walking the Path of Soul. In the mid nineties, a former Chief of Military Intelligence in South Africa made a bold decision. Stepping forward at the amnesty hearings, he spoke the truth unwaveringly, and directly implicated himself and the South African government in the murder of four young men.
Although his colleagues ostracized him as well as those whose suffering he caused, one man acted differently. In one incredible act of forgiveness, an anti-apartheid activist now turned businessman, transcended the soul-clouding emotions of revenge, hate and anger at the brutal treatment he endured during the apartheid regime; Mkhuseli ‘Kusta’ Jack offered Col. Lourens du Plessis a job in his building and construction firm in Port Elizabeth, thereby fulfilling his pledge to honour the person who told the truth about what happened to the four men. Du Plessis accepted, and in that moment, these two men stepped firmly onto a path of reconciliation ~ of reconciling their past and their differences.
As a process of nonviolent national transformation, the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission offered the country a path other than revenge and retribution in the aftermath of conflict. South Africans were offered an opportunity look at apartheid from a different perspective, a perspective that harnessed one of the highest human attributes ~ truth, that stepping stone to healing, to calling the spirit back from an uncomfortable past.
South Africans were thus provided the opportunity to walk the path of their souls by accessing their inner truth. Speaking the truth and listening to the truth was a profound experience for all. For the first time, those who suffered unspeakable trauma were witnessed - their pain and suffering were acknowledged, and their existence as real, valuable human beings was validated. Those who had abdicated their humanity in order to express violence were given the opportunity to take personal responsibility for their actions. And in that space of opening to being witnessed and validated, and in that space of facing their own shadow side, those that participated in the hearings were given an opportunity to touch their souls and reclaim their spirits. South Africans have begun consciously walking the Path of Soul, both individually and collectively, and the choice to stay on that path is one that has to be made by each South African each day, and sometimes each minute of each day. They are a nation becoming…becoming Whole.
Truth dislodges the inflexible positions we take that keep us separate,
and awakens from slumber, our great capacity for nonviolent response.
As we join our hearts together, know that powerful beacons of Light and Love will shine forth into the world, will join those from others of like intent, and be directed to those in greatest need on our beloved planet.
As we each prepare for the moment, let the mood be one of unconditional love…
…and May the Force be with us!
Please light your candles (optional) and commence with the following peace poem:
May those circumstances that limit our freedom to express Soul
Dissolve in the light of wisdom and understanding of Self.
We hold a vision of all people everywhere, facing their Truth,
and awakening to the power of calling their spirit back
from pain inflicted and pain received.
May we all feel the power of soul
filling our minds and bodies,
enabling us to undertake this hugely challenging, but essential task, with forgiveness, grace and humility.
As we call back our spirits from those dark places of pain and heal our bruised and battered Selves,
May we emerge new and whole, able to see past personality perturbations
To our own inner beauty, and the inner beauty of all human beings.
May we walk our Path of Soul, however we define it,
with a lightness of heart and freedom of spirit, more and more often,
until it becomes our deeply resonant Way of Being.
After this introductory vision/meditation/prayer, please express your own vision of peace. (As always, please feel free to modify the peace poem, or to use your own.)
~ Celebrating Great Souls Becoming ~
Please close your peace session with the extinguishing of the candle.
This Peace Circle was inspired by conversations with Maureen and the extraordinary souls who told their stories in the PBS documentary ‘Facing the Truth with Bill Moyers’ (March, 1999). It is the 8th in the series of SNV2004 Peace Circles.
More about ‘Kusta’ Jack:
Mkhuseli ‘Kusta’ Jack is an anti-apartheid activist who successfully led an effective economic boycott using nonviolence tactics in 1985 in order to bring about change and justice in his township in Port Elizabeth. During 5 ½ years of arrests and detention, he endured torture and intimidation at the hands of the apartheid regime. The construction firm he now owns is building roads and addressing housing shortages in the townships. Mr. Jack continues to be vocal in matters of civil rights in his country.
“So I think the transformation of a human life is the greatest privilege on earth.
No one can transform anyone else. Transformation comes from within,
and everyone has that opportunity at every moment. And it’s not
an event that happens and then it’s over, it is a constant
and continuous way of living, and the most
beautiful way of living I know.”
– Lynne Twist
March 15, 2004