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Nonviolence or Nonexistence?

Oct. 10, 2017


"We no longer have a choice between violence and non-violence. The choice today stands between non-violence or non-existence."

Mahatma Gandhi

"The Time is Always Right to DO What is Right."

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Last Monday, October 2, was the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, known as "The Father of the Nation" of India. He led the Indian independence movement against British colonial rule by using the tools of nonviolent civil disobedience. His formulation of nonviolence and action to change systems of power inspired Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who later transferred Gandhi's teachings and tactics to the Civil Rights Movement. Gandhi's legacy has inspired many nonviolent movements for civil and human rights around the world. In honor of Gandhi's birthday, the United Nations declares every October 2 the International Day of Nonviolence and calls global citizens to renew commitments to nonviolence and peace-making.

Tragically, on the morning of Oct. 2, we woke up to the unfolding news of a deadly shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. There are many unanswered questions, but we do know these facts: there are 59 dead, 489 injured, and countless people across the nation traumatized and spiritually scarred. This is not the national life together we imagined. The timeless question plagues us: WHAT CAN WE DO?

We agree it is the time for action. Instead, inaction has arrived. When we cannot agree on the type of action we should take, the paralysis of infighting begins to win the day. It has been eight days since the Las Vegas massacre and already the public conversation around gun control is beginning to wane. Words of comfort have not been replaced with decisive action, only negotiation and compromise for the status quo of self-interest to remain intact.

People of Love, this cycle of violence will not change until WE decide to make it change. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. both believed that living nonviolently with each other is not enough. Nonviolent inactivity will not change any legislation or policy that threatens our communities. These two national leaders of social movements advocated for nonviolent activity. They led social change by asking people like you and me to make the important choice to raise our voices, use our votes, stand up, sit down, or take a knee to challenge the systems, legislation and policies that favor money, power and possessions for the exclusive few. Will following through on these choices put you outside of your comfort zones? Absolutely, but the alternative would be learning to be comfortable with our present patterns of entrenchment, paralysis and inaction.

If we consent to live in a world where indiscriminate violence is tolerated, then we are consenting to our eventual non-existence. We can make a different choice, together.

With Hope in Us,

Rev. Doris K. Dalton,

Executive Director

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