Today on a blog I often read, xicanopwr, the author expressed the frustration I have often felt over the apparent apathy of people who should be protesting. He started and ended the article this way:

“There is an urgency this minute, I am alarmed by the complacency in reaction to the things that are taking place right here, right now in the United States of America…. A discussion needs to take place, opinions need to be expressed and shared. So who is in favor of this strategy? Let me hear your thoughts.”

The rest of the article can be found here.

I posted the following reply:

The civil rights movement in the United States had something we do not. They had a very clear goal: to build the “Beloved Community.” This Christian ideal of the human race living together as a family–as children of God–was what inspired people to make the sacrifices it took to succeed over deeply entrenched systems of racism, segregation, and militarism.

Make no mistake, we need a goal, but not any old goal will do. We need the same goal. Dr. King said “We are all tied in a single garment of destiny,” and “what affects one directly affects all indirectly.” Because of this goal, the civil rights workers of the 1960’s acted very peculiarly. They refused to hate those who hated them. They refused to hit those that hit them. They insisted on loving their enemies. When they were physically attacked, they did not return blows, nor even resist, but instead turned the other cheek.

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John Lewis, then President of SNCC and now Congressman, (shown here) put it this way.

“It is not hard to find forgiveness. And this, Jim Lawson taught us, is at the essence of the nonviolent way of life–the capacity to forgive. When you can truly understand and feel, even as a person is cursing you to your face, even as he is spitting on you, or pushing a lit cigarette into your neck, or beating you with a truncheon–if you can understand and feel even in the midst of those critical and often physically painful moments that your attacker is as much a victim as you are, that he is a victim of the forces that have shaped and fed his anger and fury, then you are well on your way to the nonviolent life…. This sense of love, this sense of peace, the capacity for compassion, is something you carry inside yourself every waking minute of the day. It shapes your response to a curt cashier in the grocery store or to a driver cutting you off in traffic just as surely as it keeps you from striking back at a state trooper who might be kicking you in the ribs because you dared to march in protest against an oppressive government. If you want to create an open society, your means of doing so must be consistent with the society you want to creates. Means and ends are absolutely inseparable. Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. Anger begets anger, every minute of the day, in the smallest of moments as well as the largest.”

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In so doing, they not only ended segregation, but moved our nation in the direction of unity and healing.

If we hope to have the kind of results they did, and hope to be the type of people they were, we need to adopt the philosophy and methods taught by Jesus of Nazareth, Mohandas Gandhi, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If we fail this test of character we will have no more claim to the beloved community than the Minutemen.

Let me finish this statement by saying that if you actually want to do something to advance human rights, or immigrant rights, or the right to migrate, or any just cause, start your preparations by studying Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and practicing forgiveness and Christian love in your daily actions. Add to your reading list the writings about satyagraha (holding fast to truth and resisting injustice) and ahimsa (nonviolence) as taught by Mohandas Gandhi. Read what Martin Luther King Jr. said about love and natural law. Practice these things in your everyday life.

This preparation will take months, and the opportunity to use them will not give you enough notice. You need to start now so that you will be ready when called upon to make a difference.

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