On Nonviolence and the Current Uprising

Viva la revolution!The American People have waited through a 30 year night and finally the first glimmers of dawn have appeared on the horizon.  The sun’s first rays are reaching us and warming us in our time of coldness and lighting our way in this time of darkness.

Each and everyone of you who has taken to the streets, who has marched, who has been arrested deserves to feel the pride of the free and the love of your fellow citizens.  You are brave and you are a role model for all of us.

The current uprising is a thing of beauty, it is a drink of water for a thirsty population.  As this movement makes its first wobbly steps and begins what will be a long journey down that path of freedom and justice, I want to remind all of us of the importance and the power of nonviolent direct action.  It has been a long time since the people fought in this way and those with direct memories of enduring police violence with dignity are elders among us now.  Respected elders with much to teach us about endurance, about commitment, and about turning the other cheek in the face of the club.

Nonviolent direct action is the only effective tactic of the people.  It is rooted in a place of spiritual and moral strength that dwells within the souls of all free people.  It is a demonstration of that strength and a demonstration of our unity.  We are blessed to have a strong history of the practice of nonviolence in our society, though it has been suppressed and excised from our schools.  The writings and speeches of our great nonviolent activists have been sanitized so that they would hardly recognize themselves reflected in the school books of today.  They have been sanitized to protect the existing order, to lead people astray and to hide in plain sight the true revolutionary battle that has always existed in this country.

Nonviolence gives us power.  It gives us the power to force the corporate state to show itself, to show its true nature as an oppressor of human liberty and a destroyer of justice.  There can be no more powerful sight on the news, on the internet, and flowing through social media than the sight of our young people, young people peacefully exercising the rights of citizenship, being attacked by the agents of the state in service of their corporate lords.  The can be no more powerful sight than the sight of a peaceful demonstrator weeping at the threshold of the bank that foreclosed on his mother while the police arrest him.  There can be no more powerful sight than that of a peaceful young woman brutally attacked by an officer with mace.

Nonviolence gives us power.  It gives us the power to practice love, to practice the kind of love Martin Luther King spoke about, agape. King wrote, “Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive good will for all men.”  Our power derives from love.  Our power derives from the oneness that all beings tuned in know underlies this world.  We are one.  Our fates are united and we cannot stand alone no matter our desires.  We are one.  Our hearts are connected together as part of one enormous tapestry of being.  A tapestry that is damaged and frayed and in need of loving care to restore to a state of rightness.

Nonviolence gives us power.  It gives us the power to resist tyranny while keeping our own souls and our own hands clean and pure.  We are on the side of justice and we are on the side of right.  That is the source of our power.  To harm another, to attack instead of love, is to undermine ourselves.  Nonviolence allows forgiveness of those who have transgressed against us.  It allows those who have gone astray to be welcomed back with open arms.  It allows a healing of the social fabric that makes up the great tapestry of being.

Our power derives from love.  And nonviolent resistance is always an act of love.  An act of love for our fellow countrymen and women.  An act of love for our great nation and all the nations of the world.  An act of love for creation and all beings within it.

Nonviolence is an act of redemption, it is an act of purification for a people who have allowed our government and our system of commerce to rain down terror on this Earth and her people.  Nonviolence on the part of citizens of this empire is an act of power and righteousness on behalf of the helpless, of the oppressed, of those who have suffered that the wealthy among us might sate their unquenchable greed.

Our brothers and sisters in New York have modeled nonviolence beautifully.  It is hard to maintain nonviolence in the face of police aggression, it is hard to maintain dignity when mace is sprayed .  But they have persevered for ten days now.  I stand in solidarity with them.

The time has come to bring the great wheel, the great machine, of modern life to a halt.  The time has come to use our bodies, our minds, and our souls to remake the world for our future and for our children’s future.

We must stand fast and bravely at this time.  Others will join us.  Every wise American knows in their hearts that we have gone mad as a culture, as a people.  Every serious American knows the time has come to stand up for what is right.  Americans are rediscovering now, slowly, haltingly, the tools we dropped in previous generation.  We will learn to use those tools and we will mold them for the current era.  The revolution is here.  The American giant has been awakened and we will not rest until justice is restored.

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An Open Letter from Resistance Lives!

Dear Friends,
Many of you are gravely concerned about the future. You are worried about global warming, declining energy resources, and the possibility of economic ruin. These concerns are all serious and all very very real. Each challenge alone represents an incredible threat to the well-being of our country and our species. Fear is a reasonable response. The desire to create local enclaves that can survive the coming onslaught is understandable. Creating zones of safety where likeminded individuals can work together toward a better world is a good impulse. But it is not enough.

We are facing truly global problems, problems that impact every single sector of society and every single mile of Earth. Many of you are highly educated and have considerable resources at your disposal. Resources you have worked hard to earn and accumulate. But you are the lucky ones. You are the ones who can see what is coming, who have the foresight to understand the likely future. That knowledge comes with obligations. Obligations not just toward yourself and those you love, but toward each person alive now and each person who will live. As Abraham Lincoln wrote, “the sin of silence when they should protest makes cowards of men,” and none of us should strive to be a coward.

Though our problems are severe and appear insurmountable, humanity has a tool to solve these problems, a tool each of us can and must use. It’s called direct collective action. It’s not the sanitized, white washed blue team red team circus. It is politics that derives from people uniting together to stand at the gates of power and demand change. Each of us has a voice, each of us has a body and each of us must use it. We have a cause no less worthy, no less honorable than the great movements that have come before us– the mass movement that won the eight hour work day and health and safety rights for workers, the mass movement that brought down the segregationist regime of the racist South. We are the natural heirs to these movements and we must serve as the voice of the downtrodden and dispossessed just as these movements did before us.

Global warming and declining energy resources require our society and societies across the world to power down and decentralize our power generation. We must stop the maniacal consumption of fossil fuels and the pillaging of the Earth for more and more energy. Those who hold the power to direct this process, to determine if we will power down and decentralize or simply move to ever more damaging forms of energy– like tar sands and the Marcellus shale gas– have no interest in powering down and decentralizing. It is in their interest to pump the last drop of oil and dig last lump of coal. Control of our energy resources is the source of their power. As long as we are dependent on them for lights, for gasoline, for the fuel that brings our food to us, we are vulnerable.  But withdrawal is not a moral or a practical option. We cannot simply opt-out of the fossil fuel economy; we must build a new economy in its place to provide the prosperity and honorable work our citizens need.

The Earth is warming rapidly. The worst fears of those who have warned us for thirty years are coming true even faster than they imagined. The ice caps are melting, the oceans are rising, and we can no longer rely on the weather patterns that our farmers have planted by for generations. It is only a matter of time until the United States suffers the same fate as Pakistan and Russia, it is only a matter of time until we have our own climate mega disaster here. It may be drought, it may be flood, it may be fire. We are poised on the brink of an abyss and we do not know what might wait at the bottom.

We must stop pumping carbon into atmosphere. We must stop those who do pump carbon into the atmosphere. There is nowhere to hide from a failing biosphere. There is no place that is safe from having its drinking water destroyed by gas fracking. There is no shore that is safe from a runaway well a mile under the sea. And there is no hope for generations to come unless the people of goodwill and generosity force the powers that be to power down and move quickly to alternative energy sources.

There are some who fear the lords of finance, who fear that their treasure, their livelihoods, their very freedom are at risk from a failed financial system. These people need not fear a chimera. Finance is not a force of nature. Finance is a tool to help society distribute resources. A tool that has been usurped and abused by a small number of very powerful wealthy individuals. Individuals who have grossly violated our laws and damaged our social fabric. Individuals who have still not been brought to justice, despite a righteous outcry of anger from the people. Individuals who have instead corrupted our government and foisted off their gambling debts on the public purse. They would have you hate the victims of their usurious lending, rather than for one second direct your anger toward them and their continuing crimes.

At the heart of this ongoing crime is the horrific economic inequality they have brought to this nation. The inequality that steals the hope of the young. There was a time when an American willing to work hard and sacrifice could rise to the top and receive a just reward. Now all they receive is debt and enslavement to the financial speculators. We burden our citizens, young and old, with usurious debt for education, for housing, for medical treatment. We enslave them to the speculators at their point of need, often while they are still dewy eyed from childhood. But none of is a slave to financiers. We are a free people who can and must throw off the shackles of this oppression. The Ponzi scheme that engulfed the American and global economy has failed and we live amongst the ruins, all the while sending what little surplus we earn to the leeches of Wall Street and their puppets in Washington.

Mass movements begin with citizens speaking the truth. They begin with boldness and honesty. Margaret Mead is credited with the quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” She described the first step of a mass movement. A step that we are taking now. But small groups are only a first step. In fact, the only thing that has ever changed the world is the citizens rising en masse and taking to the streets. Frederick Douglass said it best, “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning.” Power does not negotiate. Fear negotiates. We must take it upon ourselves to stop being afraid and start using our power. The plutocrats who rule us must be made to feel fear.

Martin Luther King, in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, wrote, “Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.” Our time grows short. The realities of global warming are obvious, our brutalities to the ecosystem in the search for more and more oil and gas grow increasingly violent, and extreme inequality soars though out our cities and towns and rural villages. Our time is now. Together we can change the future.

We will not wait for a leader to rise amongst the people. We will not wait for a voice of eloquence to speak truth to power. We will unite and we will be those leaders. We will take it upon ourselves to stand up and scream with one voice. To demand the power that rightfully rests with the people, return to the people. To people from all sides of the ideological spectrum. All who come with good will to try to create a better world for the future, all who can see beyond the mask of lies built by both the right and the left. All who can see the plain truth before their faces– the truth that this county has been stolen, has been robbed and raped by the very wealthiest among us.

We ask now: Who will join us? Who will stand beside us and make noise and use our righteous anger to save the very planet beneath our feet and the very bread that nourishes our children?
Who will stand up?

The Resistance Lives!

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