The Protective vs. The Punitive Use of Force and 3 Strategies to Try

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Dismantling Domination Systems, Nonviolent Communication, Power Dynamics

I’ve been sitting with competing emotions recently – feeling some peace and joy about the rest ahead for me during our upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend here in US, and at the same time, noticing so much ambient dread and hopelessness in me, connected to the increasing violence not only in the Middle East but in regions all around the globe. 

I found myself wondering “Is violence ever justified?”
Perhaps you’ve been wondering something similar.  

In my deep quest for a world that works for all people, combined with my desire for peace and the alleviation of suffering and oppression for all people, I can’t help but wonder:


What about those people who seek out war and actually enjoy inflicting suffering upon others?  What do we do about them?

In this week’s episode, I depart a bit from our usual format. Instead of responding to questions from the Conversations from the Heart Wednesday morning call, this “solo” episode is dedicated to exploring how the protective use of force differs from the punitive use of force in both intention and consequence.

In addition to discussing the differences between these two different types of force, I also offer up three practical, on-the-ground tools we can use (starting right now) to decrease our addiction to the punitive use of force and instead practice more life-affirming strategies in our daily lives. 

If you’d like to jump straight to those three tips, you can find the show notes below.  Interested in listening to the entire podcast?  Listen to the entire (20ish minutes) here.

Show notes:
[0:00] Intro
[2:45] The first line of defense in conflict management
[4:25] When is the use of force necessary?
[5:58] The intention behind the protective use of force
[6:30] The intention behind the punitive use of force
[8:08] The quickest way to reduce all violence
[10:40] The cost of submission
[12:45] What gets in the way of embracing creative, nonviolent solutions?
[16:46] The benefits of the protective use of force
[18:00] The importance of dropping enemy images
[20:34] How can I up level nonviolence in my own life?
[21:37] Outro

Are you transforming your relationship with force?  I’d love to know!  Leave a comment below.

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