For many years, I taught college writing courses that had a special focus on key American arguments about the rights declared for all men in the declaration of independence. As part of these arguments, we looked closely at Gandhi’s ideas about nonviolent resistance and when they are justified — when they are backed up by what Gandhi called Satyagraha, loosely translated as “soul-truth.” Satyagraha points to those things we know to be true in our soul, our basic morality — for example, we know that oppression of innocents is wrong. We looked at the arguments regarding rights in Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and at his arguments about how creative nonviolence works — based on Gandhi’s findings and his own experience. Most people probably aren’t that aware of the resonance of his arguments, and how those who would hold both men down (and eventually assassinate them) used the same arguments that we hear regularly from our government today. I’m hoping to write more about their ideas here and elsewhere soon.
For now, I just have to say traumatic violent oppression facing the American majority is freaking me out these days, as it is everyone I know. Consider that we are forced to accept an electoral process we never voted for. The American majority only voted once since 1988 for a Republican president. The American majority is liberal, and the majority of Americans vote liberal almost all the time. And yet here we are–in a situation in which children are being kidnapped from their parents, with no warning, for legally trying to cross the border and ask for asylum. Given the language of hate, the corruption, the casual racism and sexism, the corporate profiteering, the incredible cost of health care and college, it’s probably time, or well past time, to figure out how to band together nonviolently to create the tension needed to produce a change in the US. And my point here I think, is that both Gandhi and King both made it very, crystal, super clear that change won’t happen without tension, and that the purpose of nonviolent resistance is to CREATE TENSION.
I ask myself pretty much every day what I should be doing to put myself into a situation where I can creatively and nonviolently assist in creating resistance. I have this feeling that I have been resisting my whole life, through my life choices. And I’m not talking shopping organic. I always put my livelihood on the line to work with people facing struggles, and to work to educate for justice. It has always seemed like not nearly enough, but now it feels like less than not enough. I have this feeling that carrying signs won’t cut it, not that we shouldn’t. But a bigger disruption is obviously needed. I wish I could say I already know how. I read. I look. But none of us really know, do we? No one ever does, and we have to make it up as we go. So my way to is to try to write it out. I hope you won’t mind me sharing with you. I hope you will share with me. I don’t want to impose, but I don’t like Facebook, I like control of all my own ideas. I want to hear from you to, and you can in the comments, or you can write to me and I’ll share with my list. If you don’t want to hear from me, I won’t be offended, even if you are my best friend, unsubscribe works very well.
To get started, what about this, http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/the-state-that-upended-electoral-politics-with-a-new-kind-of-voting-20180705? It’s not huge, but is something. Write soon, xo Julia