PLAY the CULTURE-OF-PEACE-GAME!: Home Page :: Definitions Game :: Routes Game


inner peace

Main Topic: Coordiator Comments

It is a common belief that war is based in human nature, that humans are naturally aggressive and that anger is a basic cause of war.

With this in mind, many will be surprised that the image of anger presented here is that of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and famous advocate of nonviolence.

However, Reverend King once said that "The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force."

King, like his hero Mahatma Gandhi, believed that nonviolence needs to be active, not passive. He emphasized that "Nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards. It does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight....while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically, but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non-resistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil."

The psychology of peace activists indicates that anger is necessary for effective peace activism, while it is not necessary for warfare. This is understandable when one learns from the scientific study of anger that anger is the natural human response to perceived injustice. "That's not fair!" is the typical cry of an angry child.

But anger is not always the most effective response to injustice. Anger can be destructive, or it can be constructive. As Gandhi and King emphasized, people need to learn the skills of how and when to be angry and how and when not to be angry.

If you do not develop the skills of social anger, you may find yourself deeply troubled by your feelings of anger in the face of injustice, and you may feel the need to look for a way to establish inner peace. Do you have ideas or experience in this regard?

Visitor Comments

To add your own comments in this box, click on the "Add Reply" button at the bottom of the page. For this you must be registered and logged in.

member Jun. 08 2008,18:23
Maybe King and Gandhi did not take into account the personal costs of anger.  In my own lifetime, I have seen great suffering caused by personal anger, including the anger of my own alcoholic father who destroyed our family, and the inward-directed anger of my best friend who ended up a suicide victim.

Maybe anger can be constructive if it is harnessed properly, but most of what I have seen has been destructive.
Freudinette Jun. 14 2008,18:39
Violence and anger are often mingled. I think violence is a passage to the act, anger not always.
I see anger like a steam engine...The anger is like the coal that serves as fuel for combustion.

Surely most of what I have seen of anger has been destructive, but after many millennia, we are still not educated about how to use anger.
It is easier to be angry against you than against me !
It is easier to be violent with you than to question my own faults.
But we don't learn that. It's the fruit of personal experiences and reflexions.

We need the coal, but we don't know how to use the steam.

The question I ask is: can inner peace make steam? or just make us be wise and quiet?
1angloboy Jul. 08 2008,17:50
I guess I would ask about the sample of "peace" advocates that you used to develop your stance that peace advocates are motivated by anger. During the Vietnam War people who advocated stopping the war may have seemed like "peaceniks" but actually they could have just been against that particular war and mad about that particular war, which I understand. Now if you are a person who truely is motivated to promote peace as a way of life then I do not think anger is the motivation even when you see war as we do today. Yes when we see children with limbs blown off we feel angry at that moment but it is compassion that is the long term motivator of action so I don't like your scale here of anger vs inner peace. I do understand the point you are trying to make about the human nature argument because I have had it in my face. "Humans always war it is their nature." so is loving in their nature. It is the culture that dvelops the human beings toward eithr of these poles that is the greatest signifigant factor. Human beings are moldable. They become what they are in reaction to what they are exposed to.
game administrator Jul. 08 2008,19:14
The preceding contribution asks about the sample of peace activists surveyed in Psychology for Peace Activists where the conclusion is drawn that anger is a key motivation for peace activists.  Here is the list of famous American activists whose autobiographies or biographies are used as sources:
Martin Luther King, Jr
Eugene Victor Debs
W.E.B. DuBois
Jane Addams
A.J. Muste
Emily Green Balch
Dorothy Day
Helen Caldicott
Sandy Pollack

In addition, data are drawn from the autobiographies of Bertrand Russell, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.

For detailed information, consult Psychology for Peace Activists at
bleusungoddess Aug. 29 2008,00:19
Anger, like conflict can be powerful catalysts to effective change.  Neither anger nor conflict are bad, and without them, people often ignore topics that need to be addressed.  Unfortunately, anger and conflict can become destructive forces if they are not controlled.  I liked the idea that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shown in the "anger" icon.  It reminds us that he was human, just like the rest of us.
5 replies since Jun. 06 2008,18:22 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

[ Track This Topic :: Email This Topic :: Print this topic ]

reply to topic

PLAY the CULTURE-OF-PEACE-GAME!: Home Page :: Definitions Game :: Routes Game