Nonviolence Handbook

How Does Nonviolence Work?

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Nonviolence strengthens a campaign in three ways:

1. Among participants in a campaign. In fostering trust and solidarity among participants, they (ideally) are put in touch with the sources of their own power to act in the situation. Many people don't realise how creative they can be until they have support of others in trying something new.

What is Nonviolence and Why Use it

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Why are you interested in a Handbook on nonviolent campaigns? Probably because you want to make something happen, or perhaps because you want to stop something from happening. Perhaps you sense that nonviolence can offer an alternative to actions that generate hostility and ultimately prove sterile, at least from the point of view of making social change. Perhaps you just want to try something different or get some tips to improve the way your group is already organising actions and campaigns.

Forum Theatre

Forum Theatre is a form of roleplaying that can be used for public action, as described in the article Turkey- Building a nonviolent culture or in training. The basic idea is to act out a scenario, perhaps leading to an undesirable conclusion or violence, and then begin acting out the scenario again but this time either a participant in the roleplay or any other observer can shout at 'freeze' and take over a role in the scenario to try to do something differently. The second time new players act out the scenario from the beginning, but when the roleplay is interrupted with 'freeze', the roleplay resumes at the appropriate place - that is the point when someone would do the newly suggested action.

Role playing

Role playing is a simulation exercise in which participants take on roles in a given situation as preparation for encountering a similar situation or evaluating a past one. Roleplaying is used to develop a sense of tactics, individual competence, and group cohesion. The main advantage of roleplaying over other tools is that by its nature it involves people's emotions as well as their intellects in the experience. Because participants are more deeply engaged in roleplaying than they are in discussing a situation, they learn more, and probably more quickly. Roleplays are a versatile tool that can be used for many different purposes, for example: to analyze situations, theories and tactics; to understand people and their roles; to develop insight into the thoughts and feelings of ones “opponents”; to anticipate new situations; to reveal fears and anxieties and other feelings people have about an action; to develop individual and group competence and confidence; and to develop group morale.

Cross spectrum

To help a group determine what is an effective nonviolent action; show the different perceptions on nonviolence; to test or develop specific proposal for effective nonviolent action that the group can agree on

Decision making

Quick decision exercise is used to prepare people to face crisis situations and to get them into the frame of mind in which they will think quickly under stress, focus on key issues, learn to ignore minor ones and to reach action-decisions.

Tree and wind

Trust games help to highlight situations of insecurity or fear, and of confidence in yourself and the group

Spectrum of allies

  • To understand who our allies and opponents are.
  • To help in realizing that tactics need to be planned in relation to how much they do or don't attract key allies and move people towards being active allies.
  • To encourage more optimistic mobilization efforts through a realization that it is not necessary to win over the opposition to our point of view.
  • To invite people into the fascinating complexity of strategizing.
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