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In this essay the author sets out some questions about whether law can be made a site of encouraging more positive, peace seeking, non-violent, and pro-social behaviors. These questions derive from my own family history, as well as from my experience as a social and political activist, and also as a practicing lawyer and legal scholar. She begins in the introduction by setting out these questions in light of current conditions of domestic and international violence and some past considerations of categories of law. In the second section of this essay the author explains where her questions come from—her personal and professional biography—and how these influences have led to her conclusions, in the third section, that there is no one right way forward. Rather, we need process pluralism, as well as different substantive commitments, to advance a society of true social justice and peace, with appreciation, empathy and sympathy for human differences and more varied modes of working and living together. In the fourth section of this essay the author explores whether we, as human beings, actually have the capacity (biologically and historically) to aspire to develop a social consciousness able to support a more peaceful existence. In the fifth section she explores how our modern social and legal consciousness is attempting to grapple with the tensions implicit in searches for both justice and peace at the same time. In the sixth section the author sets out some possibilities for seriously considering what it would mean to construct a nonviolence jurisprudence. Finally, in the last section the author points out some of the limits of a jurisprudence of non-violence in the face of on-going violence and evil in the world, and ask if we can maintain the hopefulness and optimism needed to effectuate a more peaceful co-existence in a world that challenges our commitments at almost every turn.

Publication Citation

8 Unbound: Harv. J. Legal Left 79-108 (2013)