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I'm so delighted to be able to see you.
In half a century of trying to help prevent wars,
there's one question that never leaves me:
how do we deal with extreme violence
without using force in return?
When you're faced with brutality,
whether it's a child facing a bully in the playground,
or domestic violence,
or on the streets of Syria today facing tanks and shrapnel,
what's the most effective thing to do?
Fight back?
Give in?
Use more force?
This question, "How do I deal with a bully
without becoming a thug in return?",
has been with me ever since I was a child.
I remember I was about thirteen,
glued to a grainy, black and white television
in my parents' living room,
as soviet tanks rolled into Budapest.
And kids not much older than me
were throwing themselves at the tanks
and getting mown down.
And I rushed upstairs and started packing my suitcase,
and my mother came up and said, "What on earth are you doing?"
And I said, "I'm going to Budapest."
And she said, "What on earth for?" And I said, "Kids are getting killed.
There's something terrible happening."
And she said, "Don't be so silly."
And I started to cry.
And she got it and she said, "OK, I see it's serious.
You're much too young to help. You need training.
I'll help you, but just don't pack your suitcase."
And so, I got some training,
and went and worked in Africa during most of my twenties.
But I realized that what I really needed to know
I couldn't get from training courses.
I wanted to understand how violence,
how oppression works.
And what I've discovered since is this:
Bullies use violence in three ways.
They use political violence to intimidate,
physical violence to terrorize,
and mental or emotional violence to undermine.
And only very rarely, in very few cases,
does it work to use more violence.
Nelson Mandela went to jail believing in violence.
And twenty seven years later,
he and his colleagues had slowly and carefully honed the skills,
the incredible skills that they needed
to turn one of the most vicious governments the world has known
into a democracy.
And they did it in a total devotion to non-violence.
They realized that using force against force
doesn't work.
So, what does work?
Over time, I've collected about half dozen methods
that do work -- of course there are many more --
that do work and that are effective.
And the first is that the change that has to take place
has to take place here, inside me.
It's my response, my attitude to oppression
that I've got control over,
that I can do something about.
And what I need to develop
is self-knowledge to do that.
That means I need to know how I tick,
when I collapse,
where my formidable points are,
where my weaker points are.
When do I give in?
What will I stand up for?
And meditation, or self-inspection, is one of the ways --
it's not the only one --
one of the ways of gaining this kind of inner power.
And my heroine here, like Satish,
is Aung San Suu Kyi, in Burma.
She was leading a group of students
on a protest, in the streets of Rangoon.
They came around a corner,
faced with a row of machine guns.
And she realized straight away
that the soldiers, with their fingers shaking on the triggers,
were more scared than the student protesters behind her.
But she told the students to sit down,
and she walked forward,
with such calm and such clarity
and such total lack of fear
that she could walk right up to the first gun,
put her hand on it and lower it.
And no one got killed.
So, that's what the mastery of fear can do,
not only faced with machine guns,
but if you meet a knife fight in the street.
But we have to practice.
So, what about our fear?
I have a little mantra.
"My fear grows fat
on the energy I feed it.
And if it grows very big,
it probably happens."
So, we all know that 3-o'clock-in-the-morning syndrome,
when something you've been worrying about wakes you up.
I see a lot of people.
And, for an hour, you toss and turn, it gets worse and worse,
and, by 4 o'clock, you're pinned to the pillow
by a monster this big.
The only thing to do is to get up, make a cup of tea
and sit down with the fear, like a child beside you.
You're the adult.
The fear is the child and you talk to the fear
and you ask it what it wants, what it needs.
How can this be made better?
How can the child feel stronger?
And you make a plan and you say,
"OK, now we're going back to sleep.
At half past seven, we're getting up. That's what we're going to do."
I had one of these 3-a.m. episodes on Sunday,
paralyzed with fear of coming to talk to you.
So, I did the thing.
I got up, made the cup of tea,
sat down with a digital,
and I'm here.
Still partly paralyzed, but I'm here.
So, that's fear.
What about anger?
Wherever there's injustice there's anger.
But anger is like gasoline.
And if you spray it around,
and somebody lights a match,
you've got an inferno.
But anger as an engine, in an engine, is powerful.
If we can put our anger inside an engine,
it can drive us forward,
it can get us through the dreadful moments,
and it can give us real inner power.
And I learned this in my work with nuclear weapon policy-makers,
because, at the beginning, I was so outraged
at the dangers they were exposing us to
that I just wanted to argue,
and blame, and make them wrong.
Totally ineffective.
In order to develop a dialogue for change,
we have to deal with our anger.
It's OK to be angry with the thing,
the nuclear weapons, in this case.
But it is hopeless to be angry with the people.
They are human beings just like us,
and they are doing what they think is best,
and that's the basis on which we have to talk with them.
So, that's the third one. Anger.
And it brings me to the crux of what's going on,
or what I perceive is going on in the world today,
which is that last century was top-down power.
It was still governments telling people what to do.
This century, there's a shift.
It's bottom-up, or grass-roots power.
It's like mushrooms coming through concrete.
It's people joining up with people --
as Bandi just said -- miles away,
to bring about change.
And Peace Direct spotted quite early on
that local people, in areas of very hot conflict,
know what to do.
They know best what to do.
So, Peace Direct gets behind them to do that.
And the kind of thing they're doing is demobilizing militias,
rebuilding economies,
resettling refugees,
even liberating child soldiers.
And they have to risk their lives almost everyday to do this.
And what they realized
is that using violence in the situations they operate in
is not only less humane,
but it's less effective
than using methods that connect people with people,
that rebuild.
And I think that the US military
is finally beginning to get this.
Up to now, their counter-terrorism policy
has been to kill insurgents at almost any cost.
And if civilians get in the way,
that's written as "collateral damage".
And this is so infuriating
and humiliating for the population of Afghanistan
that it makes recruitment for Al Qaeda very easy
when people are so disgusted by, for example,
the burning of the Qur'an.
So, the training of the troops has to change,
and I think there are signs that it is beginning to change.
The British military would have been much better at this,
but there is one magnificent example
for them to take their cue from,
and that's a brilliant US left-tenant colonel called Chris Hughes.
And he was leading his men
down the streets of Nadjaf,
in Iraq, actually.
And, suddenly, people were pouring out of the houses,
on either side of the road,
screaming, yelling, furiously angry,
and surrounded these very young troops
who were completely terrified,
didn't know what was going on, couldn't speak Arabic.
And Chris Hughes strode into the middle of the throng
with his weapon above his head,
pointing at the ground,
and he said, "Kneel!".
And these huge soldiers, with their backpacks
and their body armour,
wobbled to the ground.
And complete silence fell.
And after about two minutes,
everybody moved aside and went home.
Now, that to me is wisdom in action.
In the moment, that's what he did.
And it's happening everywhere now.
You don't believe me?
Have you asked yourselves
why and how so many dictatorships
have collapsed over the last thirty years?
Dictatorships in Czechoslovakia,
East Germany, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Mali, Madagascar,
Poland, the Philippines, Serbia, Slovenia...
I could go on -- and now Tunisia and Egypt.
And this hasn't just happened, you know.
A lot of it is due to a book
written by an eighty-year-old man in Boston, Gene Sharp.
He wrote a book called "From Dictatorship to Democracy",
with 81 methodologies for non-violent resistance.
And it's been translated into 26 languages,
it's flown around the world,
and it's being used by young people
and older people everywhere.
Because it works. It's effective.
So, this is what gives me hope. Not just hope.
This is what makes me feel very positive right now,
because, finally, human beings are getting it.
We're getting...
practical, doable methodologies
to answer my question,
"How do we deal with a bully, without becoming a thug?"
We're using the kind of skills that I've outlined.
Inner power, development of inner power through self-knowledge.
Recognizing and working with our fear.
Using anger as a fuel.
Cooperating with others.
Banding together with others.
And, most importantly,
commitment to active non-violence.
Now, I don't just believe in non-violence.
I don't have to believe in it.
I see evidence everywhere of how it works.
And I see that we, ordinary people,
can do what Aung San Suu Kyi,
and Gandhi, and Mandela did.
We can bring to an end
the bloodiest century that humanity has ever known.
And we can organize to overcome oppression
by opening our hearts,
as well as strengthening this incredible resolve.
And this open-heartedness is exactly
what I've experienced in the entire organization
of this gathering, since I got here yesterday.
Thank you.
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【TEDx】How do I deal with a bully, without becoming a thug? Scilla Elworthy at TEDxExeter

4962 Folder Collection
Ashley Chen published on September 18, 2014
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