by Anthea Van Der Pluym
Anyone who has experienced violence either in the form of abuse, domestic violence, crime or terrorism is faced with the same questions and choices.
- Does your life matter and if so to who?
- Is it your life worth preserving?
- How will you do that? Through reciprocating in kind and choosing violence as your change agent or through peaceful, non-violent means.
In the heat of the moment, when the intrinsic will to live flares up to ensure your survival, these micro moments of panicking thoughts flash through your head amid a flood of negative emotions, fear, anger, angst. They all clamour for attention and drive you into fight or flight reactions.
And the logical choice at the time for most of us - is survival – fight and win, or run and hide. Which most of us do. I did! These are perfectly understandable and natural reactions, and have assured the perpetuation of the human race since time began.
But there is a third option which involves neither fighting nor running. And as someone who has faced a litany of violent events over a period of 10 years, from murder, rape, gang rape, and stoning/petrol burning in a violent riot – making the choice for non-violence seems to be the least understandable option.
So I offer in these next few paragraphs, a window into my world and how I as a woman, in a country racked with violence, found the freedom to break out of that cycle of horror, and start afresh and continue to live in peaceful realities.
Let me answer the first question.
You are incredibly important! Critical in fact to the creation of your own reality, and you firstly are the one who can make all the difference to you and your experience of life. Let this sink in to your inner world of thought and emotion. Set aside your external education, or traditions that tell you that you don’t matter and allow a personal breakthrough of your own, the enormous moment of settling into the fact that you have value. Real value not just that of being used for someone else’s purpose. You are in reality (at the risk of sounding extreme) the center of your own universe – your life revolves around you. Take you out of you and it’s all over…literally.
It’s quite logical really, if you don’t matter you can’t make a difference - but if you do matter, you can.
So the starting place for you is to find that value in you. You need to reach the place where you love yourself, who you are, as you are…
And, then onto the second question…
Your life is worth preserving…
Your life is not only worth preserving, but growing and developing. You’re a fully functional human being with a mind, a soul and a body, and the greatest gift you can give yourself and others is your own growth into the vastness of all that you can be. Your presence on earth, in your town, your community, or school can make the world of difference. Your ability to love, to care, to support, to drive out change in all the places that matter to you.
And, so onto the third question.
Is non-violence an option?
Yes and yes again! The preservation of life is the first step in the development of life. And, if we are to change the world and take it to the places and heights that we believe we can - we logically need to be alive and well to do that!
Whether we are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, or children ourselves – we make a difference and the starting place for that difference is with ourselves. So my first encouragement to you is find your value, find your worth and your goodness, find your strengths and use them in education, in love, in care and in support. Protect and nurture yourself and you will find the means to do it to your neighbour. Be mindful of your power, your positive power, your higher energies.
Many people ask me how I see the world today, after having been exposed to so much violence…My answer is simple. The world is beautiful - I turned away from violence and I found beauty instead.
I found outside what I discovered exists inside…
If this article is of interest to you, I invite your conversations, your questions to these deep and profoundly intimate questions. I can be contacted on anthea@thevictorsfoundation, and you are welcome to join my facebook page www.facebook.cm/bouncebackretreats.