The Power of Peace

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Posted Jun 08

There is a surplus of anger, desperation, futility, depression, fury and isolation in our country right now.  It’s the worst I remember, even during the Vietnam debacle.
I’ve advocated- rather unpopularly -that peaceful resistance is the most powerful and effective response to the sources of these intense emotions.  Steeped in affluenza, racism, fascism, nationalism and all the other sick isms, if we’re not furious then we’re not paying attention.  I don’t need to catalog all the evil things done to whom by whom; we’re deluged with that.  The fury is justified, OK?  So when I say to someone that peaceful resistance is more effective than violence (bodily injury and property damage) what they hear is negation of their fury, denial of their despair, their suffering.
That isn’t my intention.  As Erica Chenowith’s research proves, peaceful resistance has been more than twice as effective as violence in creating change.  She studied all such events, worldwide, since 1906 to reach that conclusion, causing a 180 degree pivot in her former beliefs.  Please read her material and watch her TED talk:  https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=erica+chenoweth+ted+talk
I don’t know about you but I don’t recall ever making a good decision in the middle of anger.  Granted, anger is an action emotion, an indication that action is needed.  It is a great motivator while being an abysmally poor judge of right action.  Right action takes all of our faculties, our anger, our hearts, our minds, our relationships.  And that’s why violence doesn’t work:

  • Violence severely limits who can and will join you in your rebellion.  Why not adopt a strategy that can involve children, our elders, the reticent, first-time activists?  “Many people won’t turn up unless they expect safety in numbers” (Erica Chenoweth)
  • The border between oppressors and the oppressed is wide and gray.  A cop may refuse to shoot rubber bullets into a peaceful crowd if he knows his daughter might be there.  Even the most corrupt enablers of dictator wannbes have families, friends & associates who love (and fear and or hate) them and eventually garner the courage to speak up and act out.
  • As a result of these two factors, nonviolent campaigns are four times larger and much more inclusive & diverse than violent ones.

Your Constructive Comments are Welcome!