BACK TO BASICS: WHAT ARE WE ALL ABOUT?
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 27 Mar 2009
After 7 years of war and occupation in Afghanistan, six years of war and occupation in Iraq, an increasing loss of civil liberties at home, and now growing economic collapse, no wonder more and more people are feeling fearful and desperate.
In such times it’s important to return to core principles of non-violence. In the face of escalating violence, it’s easy to forget who we are and lose a sense of our own humanity. The winds of war and repression can shake the ground upon which we stand, our very foundation, and make us question core beliefs.
In this our 393rd consecutive week (approaching 8 years) of the Hilo, Hawaii Peace Vigil, each week we’ve shared a new leaflet but the five points at the bottom remain the same. The main theme of our leaflets and the core of why we vigil is a deep belief in the principles of nonviolence.
Nonviolence says that the way to peace is through peace, not war. And that peace, to be real and sustaining, must be built on a foundation of justice. Put in another way, the means we use must be in line with the end that we seek, despite the temptation of the "quick fix," of a little "necessary" violence here and a little "necessary" violence there. History shows that violence begets violence, or as Gandhi said, "an eye-for-an-eye now threatens to make the whole world blind."
So let us be clear: we at the Malu ‘Aina Center for Nonviolent Education and Action reject war as a solution to anything. We reject violence as a means to an end. We reject the legitimacy of the U.S. empire, any empire, lording it over others through occupation. The occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Hawai’i — all must end. In the struggles for justice and peace we affirm principled nonviolent action, as exemplified by the lives of people such as Jesus and Gandhi, and local martyrs in the efforts to Free Hawaii — such as George Helm.
Principles of nonviolent action include:
1. Trying to keep our hearts full of Aloha (love, solidarity, hospitality) at all times;
2. Never killing, injuring or even hating our opponents (hate is too grate a burden to bear);
3. Committing ourselves with perseverance;
4. Staying united in principle and vision for justice and peace;
5. Disobeying orders of authorities that violate our dignity and humanity;
6. Never giving up.
Martin Luther King Jr. said,
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing that it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder the hate… Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that."
None of us is perfect. So as we get weary from years of struggle, disheartened from the slow pace of positive change, or seeing negative change happening in our midst, let us renew our vision for the long haul. No lie can live forever. Let us help one another to keep our eyes on the prize: committed people-power nonviolent action is a power for good that can overcome the greatest evils and weapons of war before us.
Make Peace! Work for Justice! Live Nonviolence!
1. Mourn all victims of violence.
2. Reject war as a solution.
3. Defend civil liberties.
4. Oppose all discrimination: anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic, etc.
5. Seek peace through justice in Hawai`i and around the world.
Jim Abertini is director of the Malu ‘Aina Center for Nonviolent Education & Action based in an organic farm on the Big Island of Hawai’i that, in addition to political/social justice activism, contributes to the Hawai’i Food Bank, sharing its produce with the poor and disadvantaged. (Malu ‘Aina = Land of Peace)
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Mar 2009.
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