Non-Violence and Consensus by By Wally Nelson

Non-Violence and Consensus

By Wally Nelson

Non-violence is the constant awareness of the dignity and humanity of oneself and others. It seeks truth and justice. It renounces violence both in method and attitude. Non-violence is a courageous acceptance of active love and goodwill as the instrument with which to overcome evil and transform both oneself and others. It is the willingness to undergo suffering rather than inflict it. It excludes retaliation and flight.


When we speak of consensus, we are not referring to the literal meaning of the word. Literally, consensus is understood as a noun we use when a group comes to a unanimous decision. Consensus as we use it implies much more than the final state of being in agreement. It is a way of relating to each other in a non-violent, respectful and caring fashion. It is more than an end result; it is a process. And in the process of consensus, it is not unanimity we seek, but unity in which we can all contribute in our own way. Hallock Hoffman in The Civilization of the Dialogue explains: “Unity… is more complex. It does not necessarily reflect total agreement on the issue under discussion. It incorporates a perception of the relationship of the members to each other and to the issue.”

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