In the last few decades researchers in various scientific disciplines have been confirming assertions made by proponents of nonviolence and also by several eastern philosophies (many of which also support cultivating a nonviolent worldview). This new science has supported the assertion that humans are intimately connected on a deeper level than we realize, and one of the most recent examples of this is the discovery and understanding of mirror neurons; this is a very important finding for the nonviolence community.
Mirror neurons are a subset of the motor neurons that activate when you move your leg or when someone touches your arm. What makes mirror neurons interesting is that they not only fire off when something touches your arm but also when you see someone else’s arm being touched: and these neurons activate exactly the same way in each situation. In a certain way, your neurons are acting as though what you see around you is happening to you. Not only do these neurons help us learn, but they have other implications that follow suit with activists of nonviolence for millennia. They are believed by VS Ramachandran , a prominent neuroscientist, to be evidence that we are not entirely separate creatures. One quote from his TED talk reads: “There is no real independent self aloof from other human beings, inspecting the world and inspecting other people; you are in fact connected…quite literally connected by your neurons…and there is no real distinctiveness of your consciousness from someone else’s consciousness. This emerges from an understanding of basic neuroscience.” This belief has been stated by advocates of nonviolence for thousands of years. And now we are finding out that it is in fact scientifically verifiable.
The nonviolence community was excited to hear the talk by VS Ramachandran. Although it is unclear precisely how much more scientific evidence for our unity will be discovered in the near future, advocates of nonviolence often refer to the idea that when scientists begin to research non-physical phenomena they will advance humanity more than they have in the last five centuries.