Guest Editorial: The Nonviolence Roadmap

by Metta Center for Nonviolence

The Metta Center Roadmap

From Zuccotti Park to Tahrir Square, a groundswell of popular discontent has arisen to confront the menacing problems and deplorable injustice of the present world order. It is clear, however, that these manifestations were just the beginning. Roadmap is a way to get “from spontaneous protest to unstoppable movement”, to address the deepest underlying issues that cry out for change in a concerted way without sacrificing the creativity and verve of Occupy and similar movements around the world, and a way that can include many who have so far not been physically active.

Roadmap, the result of years of work and many conversations in Metta’s Friday “Hope Tanks,” board meetings, and other venues, incorporates key elements of the great successful nonviolent campaigns of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. It is primarily designed for those who feel as we do that the “Great Turning” toward a world of peace and justice, of environmental sustainability and the possibility of fulfillment for every human being, deserves and requires commitment to the “long haul.”

Roadmap is, therefore, a model that displays the inherent connection among the many social actions moving us toward a new world of peace and justice, and a set of tools that enable participants to connect with each other, and find needed resources. Why this Roadmap? Every social movement needs to have two things: strategy and unity. Roadmap is a framework that can help today’s many movements, organizations, and projects to develop both.

The significant features of Roadmap are:

It is a “peace from within” format that starts with personal empowerment, moves through constructive program wherever possible, and ends up with nonviolent resistance where necessary. This does not mean that we should ignore urgent problems: many struggles must go on with the tools at hand, but in addition we should be building a long-term strategy that will not stop until the goal of a permanent, deep change is reached.

The creation of an inspiring, accurate “narrative” about the world and who we are, often called the “new story,” combining scientific advances with spiritual wisdom, is a critical feature. Without a new paradigm nothing else will change for very long. In addition to this project, called New Story Creation, Peace, other needed projects are divided into five other areas: Democracy, Social Justice, the Economy, Global Climate Protection, and the Environment. Because of its urgency, Global Climate Protection was given a separate sector. Three subsections have been suggested for each sector by way of example; they will be regularly added to and otherwise changed. (NB: Gandhi had eighteen projects in the mature version of his Constructive Programme!).

For each of the three spheres of action in Roadmap — Personal Empowerment, Constructive Program, and Nonviolent Resistance — some practical tips drawn from many years of study and collective experience have been suggested. Others will be added as the community and the conversation grow. The organizers of Roadmap have been working to convene a strategy group that will create, with the participation of others who are interested, a long-term plan — call it the Grand Strategy — that can focus the energies of those who wish to work toward the “Great Turning” in a nonviolent spirit in a sustained, unstoppable campaign.


The movement will unfold in three phases, more or less following the three rings of the Roadmap model. It is too early to assign these to real time but we may think of three years, 2013-2016, as a rough model.

2013: Phase 1: Reflection and Training

Roadmap will be widely advertised and explained to movement organizations and individuals and as opportunities afford to any interested party. Part of the purpose of Roadmap is to bring hitherto uncommitted people into the movement by giving them a concrete, doable strategy. Individuals will: (a) find their place on the map, (b) consider adopting the five practices suggested in the inner ring of the model, and (c) begin to reach out to like-minded individuals and groups.

Early in this process the remaining five Sector Coordinators will be identified and begin to meet. Candidates for the Strategic Council will be reviewed. Success at this level will be intense training in the basics of nonviolence, and activities preparing one to carry it out. This will involve cognitive and practical education, in whatever formats are most effective — not excluding formal educational institutions, should they possibly awaken to the need and opportunity.

2014: Phase 2: Community Building (Largely constructive activities)

Affinity Groups will be formed, based partly on geographical proximity and partly on passion. A good number of participants will be registered to form the basic pool for these groups.

The Strategic Council will come together and, in the course of this phase, craft the overall strategic plan, that is the Grand Strategy for the Roadmap movement. The Council will consist of Representatives, at least twelve in number, having an interest in and some track record with strategic planning and in some cases also movement organizing. They will be moved forward to this position (Council membership) by election or other consensual process from the general membership, and be subject to reconsideration/reelection every three years on a rotating basis. They will meet regularly, wherever possible face-to-face. Their second responsibility, after the building of the long-term strategic plan, will be to keep the rapidly building Roadmap movement together, well informed, and aware of itself.

Constructive Program will be launched in a coordinated fashion, built up of existing projects and new ones launched for the purpose, as many as possible having ‘stealth’ and ‘keystone’ capabilities as explained in the original brochure. The success of this stage will be shown in, among other things, the willingness of some participants to drop their particular passions if called upon to do so in favor of main projects identified by the Council. In other words, they will identify with the Roadmap as a whole and understand that ‘their’ issue will certainly be resolved when the Roadmap movement makes its mark.

2015: Phase 3: Revolution! (Direct action aimed at remaining issues)

In accordance with a long-term strategic plan, with its graded steps from the most easily doable to the most challenging issues, direct action will be taken on the remaining issues that have not been solved by Constructive Program approaches. An example of a relatively doable but highly significant project could be overturning Citizens United, an example of the last bastion of an old paradigm. Overturning it would be tantamount to the ushering in of a new world order; it would mean the overturning of the war system. Many projects like restorative justice will find their place in between.

The strategy will be flexible. Generally speaking it will be followed, other things being equal; however the Strategic Council will be prepared to drop projects that have run into a roadblock and, even more important, take advantage of unforeseen opportunities that arise. For example, there was an opportunity to tighten gun control as a result of the Newtown massacre.

The time has come for those of us who are working on one issue or another — or who have not yet gotten engaged in any issue — to join hearts and minds into a diverse but united movement.  Let the conversations begin (or continue) by clicking on this link to the Lokashakti site where the conversations will be hosted. A very important development to come out of those conversations will be the ideas and principles for a long-term strategy. In the coming months we will harvest those ideas and all of us together can come up with a sketch of that strategy and begin putting it into action.

See you on the road!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Metta Center for Nonviolence was founded in 1982 by University of California, Berkeley Professor Emeritus Michael Nagler and some friends as a think-tank for nonviolence practice and theory. Its current incarnation began in 2007 when Nagler retired from the university, and it is currently located in Petaluma, California. Their mission is “to promote the transition to a nonviolent future by making the logic, history, and yet-unexplored potential of nonviolence available to activists and agents of cultural change”.  For more information please consult their site. Note also that we posted earlier their definition of satyagraha, which can be found at this link.

“When planted in the garden, the mustard seed, smallest of all the seeds, became a large tree, and birds came and made their home there.” Luke 13:19

“For me whatever is in the atoms and molecules is in the universe. I believe in the saying that what is in the microcosm of one’s self is reflected in the macrocosm.” M. Gandhi