Lesson 1: Class of Nonviolence

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”    Hannah Arendt


1.1 If We Listen Well by Edward Guinan 1.2 Nonviolent Response to Assault by Gerald Vanderhaar 1.3 Human Nature Isn’t Inherently Violent by Alfie Kohn 1.4 Axioms of Nonviolence By Lanzo del Vasto 1.5 Teaching Reverence for Life by Albert Schweitzer 1.6 Students Astutely Aware by Colman McCarthy
[download all the Lesson One essays as a PDF file]


  1. Explain what you think nonviolence means.
  2. Peter Maurin wrote that “society should be so structured that it is easy for people to be good.” Do you think this is an idle dream? If achievable, would it make us more peaceful in our relationships?
  3. Many anthropologists point to the violence in the animal kingdom as evidence that human animals are prone innately to violence. Are we really inherently violent or have we “learned” violence from others, from society?
  4. Of all the forms of violence — physical, verbal, psychological, spiritual — which have you experienced and how did it impact you?
  5. Can a nonviolent lifestyle be attained easily in the face of a government which resorts to violence to resolve its conflicts; is there a carryover effect from top-to-bottom stemming from a powerful example from one’s own national government?


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