Dave Brisbin 8.2.20
A public debate we’ve been having for past few months and past sixty or seventy years is whether violence is necessary to effect needed political change in our society and law. Or can non-violent methods work just as well? Better? Both sides have persuasive arguments, so the debate continues. Martin Luther King brought non-violent resistance to the civil rights movement in the nineteen fifties, but he stood on the shoulders of Mohandas Gandhi and his application of non-violent non-cooperation in his fight for India’s independence from Britain in the nineteen thirties. And Gandhi stood on the shoulders of Henry David Thoreau and his non-violent civil disobedience in response to institutional slavery and American imperialism in the eighteen forties. And all stood on the non-violent teachings of Jesus in the zero thirties. They all believed that non-violent protest and resistance alone had the power to both create fundamental change that would also provide the chance for healing and unity on the other side of that change. That the means we use must match the ends we seek or we’ll never achieve those ends.

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And these four also believed that non-violence was not just a tactic to achieve certain ends, but a way of life that had to come from deep within the hearts of those who practiced it or it was nothing at all. And this is where it touches us all whether we march in the streets and are politically active or not. We need to decide, regardless of the debate on how best to achieve lasting and needed political change, whether we believe that non-violence—treating each other with the respect and consideration we say we believe is everyone’s right—is the deepest desire of our own hearts. And whether we will practice that non-violence in our homes first and in every personal encounter. Until we do that, Jesus, Thoreau, Gandhi, and King would say we’ve missed the point.

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