A Season for Nonviolence, is a national 64-day educational, media, and grassroots campaign dedicated to demonstrating that nonviolence is a powerful way to heal, transform, and empower our lives and our communities.
This international yearly event, established in 1998 by Arun Gandhi, Mohatma Gandhi’s grandson, honors Mohatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr’s vision for a nonviolent world. The “season” begins with the anniversary of Mohandas Gandhi’s assassination on January 30 and ends with the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination on April 4.
DAY 1 Jan. 30: The thought for today is COURAGE.
“I can shake off everything if I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
When you discover that everyone is contained in you and you are contained in everyone, you have realized the unity of life, which is the divine ground of existence. Then you are not just a person; you have become a beneficial force. Wherever you go, wherever you live, those around you will benefit from your life. Even one unassuming man or woman in a community has the courage to lead a nonviolent life, she will make her contribution, and she will slowly inspire others to make the same contribution, because human nature responds to such an example.
When we can say, “Whatever comes, we will not be afraid because the divine Self is within us,” then this resoluteness and faith will enable us to work free from tension, agitation, and fear of defeat. The person who works in this way is at peace, because he or she is not anxious about results.
Today: I will light a candle to symbolize my commitment to accept the courage to practice 64 Ways of living nonviolently.
DAY 2 Jan 31: The thought for today is SMILING. Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said “If, in our daily life, we can smile…not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship and nonviolence. A smile not only improves our looks, it improves our outlook, and when our outlook improves, it is much easier to be at peace.
Today: I will share a sincere smile with everyone I meet, knowing that my smile contributes to peace.
DAY 3 Feb. 1: The thought for today is APPRECIATION. Author Louise Hay says “Praise yourself as much as you can…The love in our lives begins with us … Loving yourself will help heal this planet.” Peace in the world begins inside each person. Appreciating who I am raises my awareness of nonviolence.
Life is filled with opportunities to express appreciation, yet how many times do we pass up the opportunity thinking “oh, I’ll tell them later.” When we tell someone that we appreciate them, we are promoting nonviolence.
Today: I will write down ten things that I appreciate about myself and my life. I will tell at least one other person what I appreciate about them.
DAY 4 Feb. 2: The thought for today is CARING. According to Peter McWilliams “Nonviolence toward the self is caring for oneself. Self love is a crowning sense of self worth; it is what the Greeks call reverence for the self.”
When I regard my life as a trust, I realize that the first resource I have to take care of is my own body. This can be startling! Even my body is not really my own – it belongs to life, and it is my responsibility to take care of it. Taking care of it is a demonstration of nonviolence.
Today: I will make a list of at least five ways that I can take care of myself, physically and/or mentally, and I will honor that list today through demonstration.
DAY 5 Feb. 3: The thought for today is BELIEVING. Author, Wayne Dyer writes about the impact that our beliefs have on our daily lives. Believe that you have all the resources you need to move your life in the direction of peace, happiness and nonviolence. Believe that you can be peaceful all day. Say to yourself “I am peaceful, I practice nonviolence.”
Today: I will write what I believe about nonviolence. I will create an “I Believe in Nonviolence” t-shirt, bumper sticker, song, or art, and be aware of the simple demonstrations of peaceful responses.
DAY 6 Feb. 4: The thought for today is SIMPLICITY. To simplify is to invite peacefulness into your life. When we have lots of ‘stuff’ in our lives, it is hard to be peaceful. Close your eyes and ask “How can I simplify my life, what can I let go of?”
“Live simply, so others can simply live.”
-Traditional Quaker guidance
If we dare let go of our possessions and the will to control and dominate, we will cultivate a deeper spirit of peace within us because we can accept the present moment as a gift. By simplifying our lives, dropping less important activities and ‘things’, we allow more time for what matters most.
Today: I will write down three ways I can simplify my life and put at least one of them into practice today. I will give away something I have not used in the past year.
DAY 7 Feb. 5: The thought for today is EDUCATION. Knowledge strengthens your conviction and deepens your understanding and acceptance. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” The complete education teaches how to live by the principles which benefit us and the people around us.
Learn about the power of nonviolence by educating yourself. Read an article, periodical or book; watch a video on a subject that relates to nonviolence. Learn about human rights, diversity, ecology, history, politics, forgiveness, spirituality, peace studies, biographies of heroes and more.
Today: I consciously expand my knowledge about nonviolence. I will share what I have learned with at least three other people, and invite them to learn, too.
DAY 8 Feb. 6: The thought for today is HEALING. Poet and activist, Maya Angelou turned a traumatic childhood experience into a catalyst for creativity and achievement. She used this experience as a reason to bring peace to the world.
We all have had such experiences, sometimes holding on to the experience for a very long time. A mantram is a wonderful way to resolve conflict we hold in our mind and one of the best times to repeat the mantram is while falling asleep at night. Tuck yourself in, close your eyes, and start repeating your mantram. Between the last waking moment and the first sleeping moment, there is an opening into deepest consciousness. You can send your mantram in through that opening, repeating itself in your sleep, healing old wounds and restoring your peace of mind.
Today: I will reflect on an incident in my life to find the “gift” it has brought me. I will write down two ways I can use this memory to become a more creative and peaceful person. Consciously, I share this gift with others.
DAY 9 Feb. 7: The thought for today is DREAMING. Martin Luther King, Jr., had a great dream. Follow your dream; follow your heart; follow your inner light.
We need men (and women) who can dream of things that never were, and ask why not. -George Bernard Shaw
There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were, and ask ‘Why not?’
-Robert F Kennedy
Today: I take ownership of my own dream for peace and nonviolence. I will write down and act on at least one thing to honor my dream today.
DAY 10 Feb. 8: The thought for today is FAITH. When Cesar Chavez was organizing farm works in California, he challenged them to say, “Si, se puede” – yes, it is possible – when they didn’t know how they would overcome obstacles. Today, say “Yes, it is possible” even if you don’t know how your goal will be realized. Have faith – you will find a way.
Today: I will say, “Yes, it is possible,” to every obstacle I meet. I will write down three things I am having a challenge with and with each one write “It is possible for me to overcome this obstacle and be successful.”
DAY 11 Feb. 9: The thought for today is CONTEMPLATION. For at least three minutes, relax, breathe, and let your mind be fed by whatsoever is good and beautiful. Many sacred texts tell us some variation of ‘your thoughts shape your reality’.
“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” -Aristotle
Today: I take a moment to relax, breathe and let my mind be fed by what is good and beautiful. As I think, so I am! I will write down my thoughts and share them with others.
DAY 12 Feb. 10: The thought for today is GROUNDEDNESS. Gandhi said “To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” Black Elk reminds us “Some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds.”
This is how we are going to feel grounded, like a tree planted in the earth. Stand up straight and close your eyes. Imagine your body is a tree. Send down roots into the soil, feel the sun shining from above. Feel your branches and leaves blowing in the wind. When we feel grounded, we feel secure in our environment; and when we feel secure, we are more likely to respond to a situation in a nonviolent way. Being grounded helps us contribute to peace, to a culture of nonviolence.
Today: I will nurture a plant or plant a seed in, and for, the earth. When I am in a confrontational situation, I will recall that sense of being grounded and respond in a nonviolent way.
DAY 13 Feb. 11: The thought for today is CREATIVITY. The human soul’s natural desire is to create. The best thing you can do to a human soul is to express the natural desire to create. Your life is your creative expression. Creativity allows something unpredictable and joyous to express through you.
“Why should we use all our creative power? . . . Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” -Brenda Ueland
Today: I reflect on what I am creating in my life today by identifying at least five ways in which I can express my creativity joyously. I will create something that expresses my feelings about nonviolence.
DAY 14 Feb. 12: The thought for today is HUMILITY. Making mistakes is a part of learning and growing, simply an error in approach. Paradoxically, the only way we can begin to escape from the consequences of our actions is to stop running from them and to face them with fortitude and humility. In this sense, every difficult situation is a precious opportunity for learning.
When we humbly acknowledge our mistakes and reflect on what we have learned, it frees us from the need to be defensive. Being free from defending our position creates an opportunity for nonviolence.
“The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust. The world crushes the dust under its feet, but the seeker after truth should so humble himself that even the dust could crush him. Only then, and not till then, will he have a glimpse of the truth.”
Today: As I gaze up at the stars tonight, I am aware of how small I am, how my life is but a fleeting moment in the vast scale of time and distances of the solar system and the universe. And in that moment of humility, I acknowledge that I DO make a difference.
DAY 15 Feb. 13: The thought for today is REVERENCE. Reverence for all life is fundamental to Ahimsa; it is the ultimate rationale for nonviolence – for how can one willingly do harm to that for which one has reverence – and towards which one has the love that reverence engenders?
“In the main, reverence for life dictates the same sort of behavior as the ethical principle of love. But reverence for life contains within itself the rationale of the commandment to love, and it calls for compassion for all creature life.” -Albert Schweitzer
“Reverence is a virtue that prepares us well to belong to one another; it reaches out to those who have given messages of not wishing to belong. When we approach others with gentle reverence, we bring gifts and share theirs with us.” -Paula Ripple
Today: I open myself up to a feeling of reverence for all forms of life, especially each and every person that I meet during the day. I’ll take a walk outside and experience the beauty that surrounds me as I BE with the sky, the plants and animals, as well as my brothers and sisters.
DAY 16 Feb. 14: The thought for today is GRATITUDE. On her show, Oprah Winfrey frequently promotes the daily practice of gratitude.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -Melody Beattie
Today: I will list five things for which I am grateful for and share these good things with another, then reflect on who and what made those experiences possible. I will write a “thank-you” note to someone who would least expect me to thank them. I’ll journal about my feelings with regard to this.
DAY 17 Feb. 15: The thought for today is INTEGRITY. “Do the Right Thing!” Spike Lee used these words as a title for one of his movies. When faced with a choice, listen to your conscience, and be willing to act accordingly, no matter what others may say. You know what is right to do; you can choose to do it.
Integrity asks for firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values and denies any form of corruption. Integrity is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. And when I am in harmony, I am a model of nonviolence.
Today: When faced with a choice today, I listen to my conscience. I’ll recall then write a short story about a time when I listened to my heart when the people around me were doing something else.
DAY 18 Feb. 16: The thought for today is FREEDOM. Civil Rights activist Diane Nash said, “Freedom, by definition, is people realizing that they are their own leaders.” Take a leadership role today in your own life. Find a way where you can express who you truly are.
“When people decide they want to be free, there is nothing that can stop them.”
-Bishop Desmond Tutu
“To be free is to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Today: I’ll claim my definition of freedom. I’ll write a haiku poem about freedom.
DAY 19 Feb. 17: The thought for today is ACCEPTANCE. “Resentment, fear, criticism and guilt cause more problems than anything else” says author Louise Hay. By choosing not to judge myself and see myself as unique, loving, capable and bright, and by accepting myself just as I am, I will be modeling nonviolence. Any time I can take down the walls of defense, I open myself up to a nonviolent way of living.
“Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”
Today: As I reflect on what is difficult for me to accept – in myself, in other people, and in the state of the world – I’ll let go of any resistance or judgment, and allow myself to accept and acknowledge whatever I have been resisting.
DAY 20 Feb. 18: The thought for today is SELF-FORGIVENESS. When I judge myself, I tend to believe that who I am is what I have done or not done, what I have or do not have. I know that who I am is greater than all these things. I am greater than any mistake I have ever made. When we get even the slightest glimpse of the unity of life, we realize that sitting in judgment of other people and countries and races, I’m training my mind to sit in judgment of myself. As I forgive others, I am teaching the mind to respond with forgiveness everywhere, even to the misdeeds and mistakes of my own past. Practicing self-forgiveness is a foundation for practicing nonviolence.
Today: I will write an apology letter to myself for anything I have done to myself that I wish I had not, or ways that I have disappointed myself and not fully lived up to my potential. I’ll mail the letter to myself and when it arrives, I will read it in a quiet place.
Day 21 Feb. 19: The thought for today is INSPIRATION. There are many people who inspire us. Take a moment to reflect upon who inspires you and what characteristics you most admire in them. See the potential that is also within you and choose to cultivate these characteristics in your daily life.
“Cease trying to work everything out with your minds. It will get you nowhere. Live by intuition and inspiration and let your whole life BE Revelation.” -Eileen Caddy
Today: As I think of at least two people who exemplify the practice of nonviolence, I’ll acknowledge what it is I admire about them, what inspires me about them. I’ll practice these behaviors today so that other people may be inspired and I’ll share this insight with at least three other people.
DAY 22 Feb. 20: The thought for today is MISSION. “My life is my message” said Gandhi. Gandhi’s mission was to be nonviolent. What do you want to stand for in your life? Do you know your life’s mission?
Today: I will write down what I stand for in my life. I will note at least one way I can show, through action, that I stand for my beliefs. I will develop a personal mission statement and draw a picture of myself living my mission. I will share my mission with at least three other people.
DAY 23 Feb. 21: The thought for today is PRAYER. “Prayer from the heart can achieve what nothing else in the world can” said Gandhi.
Begin and end the day with a prayer for peace. Let peace begin with me.
Saint Francis of Assisi said it this way:
“….. make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, union;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.”
Today: I will begin and end the day with a prayer for peace. When I say goodbye to people, I will say “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” I will create a space in my home dedicated to prayer for nonviolence.
DAY 24 Feb. 22: The thought for today is HARMONY. Choosing NOT to engage in any form of gossip today contributes to harmony. Choosing to see the good in others rather than finding fault leads to peaceful relationships. Look for the good in yourself and in others. By making these choices, we are contributing to a culture of nonviolence, we are being a model of peace.
Today: I will choose to see the good in others instead of finding fault. I will spend the entire day without criticizing anything or anyone; if I am tempted to criticize, I will write down the criticism rather than speaking it, then later discover where the criticism is coming from within me.
DAY 25 Feb. 23: The thought for today is FRIENDLINESS. To humorist Will Rogers, strangers were simply friends he hadn’t met. View those you encounter today in that light. Every time I am friendly toward another, I help break down the wall of separation and I contribute to nonviolence.
Today: I will make a new acquaintance, befriend a stranger. I will go up to someone I haven’t met yet and say “Hi friend.”
DAY 26 Feb. 24: The thought for today is RESPECT. Gandhi taught “Language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers.” Respecting yourself and others means making a choice not to use profanity or ‘put downs’. Let our language be based on respect for those we address. The life of peace excludes no one. Let your words reflect your respect for others – speak from the depth of your heart and soul. The other side of respect is listening – listen to others with the respect that what they have to say matters. The act of listening has a calming effect on others, even if they are in a heated tirade, just listening models a nonviolent response.
“Courtesy towards opponents and eagerness to understand their view-point is the ABC of nonviolence.” -M.K. Gandhi
Today: As I interact with and observe people during the day, I will be aware of ways in which I respect each person. I will draw a picture of someone for whom I have a great deal of respect, then frame the picture with words that describe this person.
DAY 27 Feb. 25: The thought for today is GENEROSITY. Mother Teresa said, “There is a hidden poverty more pervasive than lack of money. It is the poverty of the heart.” Look at ways you can contribute to your family, friends and community through your generosity. You will see how your generous gift comes back to you.
The more generous you are today, the more generosity you will have tomorrow. The more love you give, the more loving you become. The more generous you become, the less need to defend what you have, the greater your capacity for nonviolence.
Today: I will find three ways to give generously of my time, talent and resources to others. I will create a ‘Gift Certificate’ for someone.
DAY 28 Feb. 26: The thought for today is LISTENING. Can you stop what you are doing and thinking, and take time to truly listen to the feelings behind someone’s words to you? Being fully present for the conversation and interested in what that person is saying is a practice of nonviolence.
A component of Marshall Rosenberg’s “Nonviolent Communication” involves listening with compassion. The listener attends fully to the speaker’s words, while sensing the feelings and needs beneath the words. The listener is simply fully present, not trying to “figure out” what the speaker is needing, nor trying to “get it right.” If I can listen to you with compassion, it is usually only a short time before you listen with compassion to me.
Today: I will be fully present to each conversation I engage in, and listen longer than usual – and with more patience – to what others are saying. I will give the other person my full attention, because nothing else really matters. I will look directly at the person who is speaking, without thinking about other things.
DAY 29 Feb. 27: The thought for today is FORGIVENESS. When we forgive, we do not condone hurtful behavior. When we realize that there is something within us that is more important than this hurtful experience, we are free to let go of the past and move on with our lives. In doing so, we open our hearts to the humanity of those we forgive.
As we forgive others, we are teaching the mind to respond with forgiveness everywhere, even to the misdeeds and mistakes of our own past. And if I have treated a particular person badly, even if I can no longer win that person’s forgiveness, I can still win the forgiveness of myself.
“The results of forgiveness is the stopping of the recycling of anger within ourselves and in the world. Peace will come to the world when each of us takes the responsibility of forgiving everyone, including ourselves, completely.” -Gerald Jampolsky
Today: I am willing to let go of the past, and forgive those who have hurt me, and towards whom I feel anger. I will forgive myself too. Today, I will write a letter of forgiveness to someone (I do not have to mail it).
DAY 30 Feb. 28: The thought for today is MAKING AMENDS. The other side of forgiveness is making amends, when it is you who has been – or needs to be – forgiven for hurt or wrongdoing you may have caused. As with forgiveness, the gift of making amends – to yourself and to whoever has been hurt or wronged – is revealed when it is given unconditionally from your heart. What would it be like if world leaders made amends?
“Making amends may seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but for those serious about recovery it can be great medicine for the spirit and soul.” -Step 9 Forgiveness. The Twelve Steps
Today: As I interact with people today, I will reflect on whether there are ways I feel moved to make amends; I will let my heart gently guide me, as I recall each person’s unique ways of expressing his or her joys, fears and pains. I will be open to let my heart speak through words, actions, thoughts or prayers. I will offer a sincere apology to someone I may have hurt.
Today: In each of the four meanings quoted above, I will take time to acknowledge each person I meet or see today – including myself – in the spirit of ahimsa and forgiveness. I will take time today to acknowledge the realm of nature, the community of life on Earth, and the Earth itself.
Today: Choose something simple to do, such as eating a piece of fruit. Bringing my complete attention to it, I will not allow myself to talk to anyone or think of anything else except what I’m doing. Notice what my hands do, the way the food feels in my mouth, the taste, the texture, the idea of nourishing my body. Is this different from the way I normally eat? I will practice being mindful in everything I do today.
DAY 64 Apr. 3: The thought for today is CELEBRATION.