Greetings friends and creators of beloved community,
Click HERE to view the video.
Thank you for your participation and attentiveness during our third session of Nonviolence and Social Change. Below is a summary recap of the third session and a small homework assignment. Invite your friends to join us. Anyone can still register (click HERE) and will have access to the video recordings. Also thank you for your donations. The content of this page includes:
Come back next week with 3 ways a local campaign you’re involved with could creatively build participation.
Continue journaling about what does “beloved community” mean to you. We will have opportunities for some of you to share your writings.
(Optional): For those with the Engaging book, read the three types of action on pg 135-137
TYPES OF ACTION
Gene Sharp, a well known academic theorist in the field of nonviolence, emphasized that nonviolence is not about being morally correct, but creating strategic advantages in a conflict where there are imbalances in power dynamics. (Think in term of political jiu-jitsu, where an opponent is thrown off balance by remaining nonviolent in the face of violence.) Sharp identified 198 nonviolent actions, in three distinct categories of nonviolent action methods.
Protest and Persuasion: Protest and persuasion are symbolic in their effect and produce an awareness of the existence of dissent. Under tyrannical regimes, however, where opposition is stifled, their impact can in some circumstances be very great. Methods of nonviolent protest include marches, pilgrimages, picketing, vigils, “haunting officials,” public meetings, issuing and distributing protest literature, renouncing honor, voluntary emigration, and humorous pranks.
Noncooperation: If sufficient numbers of people participate, they are likely to present the opponent with difficulties in maintaining the normal efficiency and operation of the system. In extreme cases, non-cooperation may threaten the system itself. Methods of nonviolent noncooperation include various types of social, economic, and political noncooperation. Methods of noncooperation include strikes (e.g. school, labor, or hunger strikes), work slowdowns, consumers boycott, refusal to sell or let property, and blocking lines of information or command.
Intervention: These methods share some features in common with the first two classes, but also challenge the opponent more directly. Assuming that fearlessness and discipline are maintained, relatively small numbers of people may have a disproportionately large impact. Methods of nonviolent intervention include sit-ins, pray-ins, fasts, road blocks, occupations, nonviolent invasion, guerilla theater, and parallel government.
SPECTRUM OF ALLIES
The spectrum of allies is a helpful tool to demonstrate how to increase the number of people demanding justice and/or change and offering suggestion for accomplishing that task. Consider the example of Campaign Nonviolence. In their first year of organizing, it registered 240 actions. In the second year, 370 actions, in the third year 758, in the fourth 1600, and fifth year there were 2600 actions. Increasing the number of actions was their strategic goal and they achieved it. We need to remember something that is often overlooked or confusing: it is ordinary citizen who needs to be reached and convinced of the need for change. The goal is not to try to influence or change the mind of leading or active opponents. It is people power, invoked by alerting, educating, inspiring, and involving, that will make a difference.
Here is the link to the class JamBoard:
Wild Creativity (Rivera Sun)
Creative Nonviolence Can Defeat Repression (Erica Chenoweth)
Resources for Creative Nonviolence
As you begin to think more about the interrelatedness of Beloved Community and Nonviolence, here is a list of meaningful phrases and concepts. These phrases and concepts come from the different resources and passages that we have shared during the course. Which one(s) resonate with you? What would you add to the list?
- means must be consistent with the ends
- the end is reconciliation;
- the end is redemption;
- the end is the creation of the beloved community
- love fuel means = love fueled ends
- love fueled nonviolence social change = love fueled beloved community
- awakening moral truths
- evoking the humanity in each us
- ends the myth of redemptive violence
- unity in diversity
- unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation
- power without love is reckless and abusive
- love without power is sentimental and anemic
- power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice
- justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love
- justice is what love looks like in public
- creating beloved community is a global vision—not a lofty utopian goal
- a realistic, achievable goal
- attainable by a critical mass of people committed to and trained in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence and social change
- the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization
- freedom and justice through love
- this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends
- this type of understanding goodwill will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age
- it is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of men and women
- love plus justice equals transformation and liberation
- love without justice is sentimentality
- justice without love can become brutality or legalism
- when we add love to justice we then begin to raise the issues and see other individuals as human beings
- married together love and justice consummate their relationship; they produce the children named of transformation and liberation
- love and justice together, we then have a just mercy
- communicates peoples’ worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves
- committed to creating meaningful lives in loving presence with the whole of human civilization
- the best way to predict your future is to create it
Spectrum of Allies (Training for Change)
What is nonviolent action?
Our creative abilities connect and contact many different aspects of our humanity. Take time to reflect on these two excerpts from Mirabai Starr’s book “Wild Mercy.”
When speaking of art, we most often think of the finished product whether it be a painting, a drawing, a performance, a sculpture, a poem, or another expression of creativity. Today, you are invited to consider the evolving process of creation as described author and teacher Mirabai Starr who believes, that each of has the capacity to offer something new to the world. It does not come quickly or easily, but few things of any depth or value ever do. Mirabai writes:
A miraculous event unfolds when we throw the lead of our personal story into the transformative flames of creativity. Our hardship is transmuted into something golden. With that gold we heal ourselves and redeem the world. As with any spiritual practice, this creative alchemy requires a leap of faith. When we show up to make art, we need to first get still enough to hear what wants to be expressed through us, and then we need to step out of the way and let it. We must be willing to abide in a space of not knowing before we can settle into knowing. Such a space is sacred. It is liminal, and it’s numinous. It is frightening and enlivening. It demands no less than everything, and it gives back tenfold.
There is a vital connection between creativity and mysticism. To engage with the creative impulse is to agree to take a voyage into the heart of the Mystery. Creativity bypasses the discursive mind and delivers us to the source of our being. When we allow ourselves to be a conduit for creative energy, we experience direct apprehension of that energy. We become a channel for grace. To make art is to make love with the sacred. It is a naked encounter, authentic and risky, vulnerable and erotically charged.
The muse rarely behaves the way we would like her to, and yet every artist knows she cannot be controlled. Artistic self-expression necessitates periods of quietude in which it appears that nothing is happening. Like a tree in winter whose roots are doing important work deep inside the dark earth, the creative process needs fallow time. We have to incubate inspiration. We need empty spaces for musing and preparing, experimenting and reflecting. Society does not value its artists, partly because of the apparent lack of productivity that comes with the creative life. This societal emphasis on goods and services is an artifact of the male drive to erect and protect, to engineer and execute, to produce and control. Art begins with receptivity. Every artist, in a way, is feminine, just as every artist is a mystic. And a political creature. Making art can be a subversive act, an act of resistance against the deadening lure of consumption, an act of unbridled peacemaking disguised as a poem or a song or an abstract rendering of an aspen leaf swirling in a stream.
The very process of creating art is valuable and generative, even if no one else ever sees it. Mirabai Starr reminds us of the freedom of childhood and encourages us to be courageous and to embrace our creative nature once again. While we may consider childhood to be in our distant past, a child is still within each of us today.
When you were a child, you knew yourself to be cocreator of the universe. But little by little you forgot who you were. When you were a child, everything was about color. Now you pick black as your automatic font color, because that is the coin of the realm. When you were a child, you traveled from place to place by dancing, and now you cultivate stillness, which is great, but you are forgetting how to move to the music of your soul. You can hardly even hear that inner music over the clamor of all your obligations. . . .
Yes, you are worthy of art making. Dispense with the hierarchy in your head that silences your own creative voice. . . . It is not only your birthright to create, it is your true nature. The world will be healed when you take up your brush and shake your body and sing your heart out. . . .
The part of our brains with which we navigate the challenges of the everyday world is uneasy in the unpredictable sphere of art making. We cannot squeeze ourselves through the eye of the needle to reach the land of wild creativity whilst saddled to the frontal cortex, whose job it is to evaluate external circumstances and regulate appropriate behavior. Creativity has a habit of defying good sense. I am not arguing, however, that the intellect has no place in the creative enterprise. The most intelligent people I know are artists and musicians. Their finely tuned minds are always grappling with some creative conundrum, trying to find ways to translate the music they hear in the concert hall of their heads into some intelligible form that others can grasp and appreciate.
What a creative life demands is that we take risks. They may be calculated risks; they may yield entrepreneurial fruits, or they may simply enrich our own lives. Creative risk taking might not turn our life upside down but, rather, might right the drifting ship of our soul. When we make ourselves available for the inflow of [Spirit], we accept not only her generative power but also her ability to [overcome] whatever stands in the way of our full aliveness.
You do not always have to suffer for art. You are not required to sacrifice everything for beauty. The creative life can be quietly gratifying. The thing is to allow ourselves to become a vessel for a work of art to come through and allow that work to guide our hands. Once we do, we are assenting to a sacred adventure. We are saying yes to the transcendent and embodied presence of the holy.