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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Not Everybody Can Be A Martyr

County Bigot Davis is enjoying the amenities of the State.  That's the extent of her profit from her criminal activity: she will not become a rich martyr.


September 3, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Balancing Act

Marco Rubio:

We should seek a balance between government’s responsibility to abide by the laws of our republic and allowing people to stand by their religious convictions. While the clerk’s office has a governmental duty to carry out the law, there should be a way to protect the religious freedom and conscience rights of individuals working in the office.

We have a balance already: government officials abide by the law when in their office, and exercise their religious freedom everywhere else.  Easy peasy!


September 3, 2015 in Conscience, Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

So Help Me G-d

Bless her heart:

After being rebuffed by the Supreme Court and therefore exhausting the appeals process, Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis denied a marriage license to a gay couple today for the fifth time since the legalization of same-sex marriage. Davis is part of a small group of county clerks who claim that their interpretation of divine law trumps their responsibilities as public officials. Demanding that one couple seeking a marriage license leave her office, Davis said that she is acting “under God’s authority.”

She forgot whose authority is at issue, which she swore an oath to uphold:

I...will faithfully execute the duties of my office without favor, affection or partiality...

Do your fucking job, resign on principle, or suffer the sanctions, you obstinate piece of shit.


PS--The KY Leg can remove her, but is currently not in session.

September 1, 2015 in And Fuck..., Conscience, Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (6)

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Friends At War

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

 Isaiah 6:8

The other day on Facebook I shared something from Friends Journal wherein they inquired as to what themes readers might be interested in.  I mused about why some Quakers go to war and how their Meetings deal with it.

Today this post from a few weeks ago popped up:

As I engaged more deeply with the gospels and discovered more about the witness of peacemakers like John Woolman, Henry David Thoreau, Daniel Berrigan, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr., the latent longing for peace awakened within me. My conviction grew that Jesus really meant what he said on the Sermon on the Mount and the spirit of Christ has continually called the Friends and saints of God to realize the possibilities of peace on earth. I began to speak more openly about this conviction. But the stronger my convincement became, the harder it was to know how to respectfully relate to my friends and family who were service members.

It was at my current meeting that I began to understand how real this tension is within service members and veterans themselves. During a conversation, a member of our meeting who is a Vietnam veteran told me about his struggle to find a church that could “speak to his condition.” One of his most telling statements helped me see what Friendly work may be needed with veterans: “It felt like [to the churches I visited] I was either a monster or a hero.” This connected with my experience of many churches, including Quaker meetings. Too often, meetings have trouble distinguishing the wars they oppose from the men and women who are asked to fight them, seeing them as monsters. Other churches want to honor the service of veterans and their willingness to “lay down one’s life for their friends” (John 15:13) and can only relate to them as heroes. Neither of these extreme labels fits the experience of most veterans. Veterans are like most other folks in that they have mixed emotions about their life choices and experiences. They carry a mix of pride and shame, joy and regret. Veterans need Quaker meetings that are able to navigate a “third way” beyond the labels of monster and hero and create a hospitable space where they can attend to the leading of the Light. They need a safe space where their wounds can be healed, their stories can be heard, and their gifts can be shared.

There is new language that helps us understand the spiritual and psychological trauma faced by so many veterans. We not only hear about post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, and military sexual trauma, we are now hearing about moral injury. Moral injury happens when there is a deep violation of one’s conscience and moral center. The violence and trauma becomes internalized within the service member, and there is a need for healing and cleansing. Many ancient cultures had rituals and healers who were practiced at integrating warriors back into the community, but those communal structures have largely broken down. Perhaps this is a unique invitation and opportunity for Friends. We do not believe in war; we oppose war and want to end it. But we do believe in peace, and if we want to be faithful to that testimony, we must address violence in all its forms: external violence between groups and nations and internal violence within those who experience the trauma of war. The realities of moral injury call us to a ministry of soul repair. Perhaps this is the “third way” to which we are being led.

We Quakers have never been afraid of tension, any more than Dr King was.  Nor is the Society of Friends monolithic, any more than the Civil Rights Movement is.


August 21, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Quaker And The Gadget

A Quaker reflects on his father's involvement in the Manhattan Project.  It's not clear to me if dad was a Friend himself, but I will note once again that some of us do, in fact, get involved in wars in various ways, because anybody can get to the point where evil seems impossible overcome without violence. 


August 12, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1)

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

God Loves Fags!

Well, some of Her churches do, at least.  People ought to remember that.


June 30, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Conscience Has Consequences


A county clerk in Arkansas intends to resign from her position because she doesn't believe in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Cleburne County Clerk Dana Guffey said Monday that she intends to step down June 30, according to ArkansasOnline, because she has a moral objection to same-sex marriage. 

If you can't do your job, find another.  Don't try to use the Bible--or MLK--as a Get Out Of Work Free card.


PS--Here's somebody who apparently read all her Bible:

Over the weekend, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton suggested that local clerks with religious objections could opt-out of granting marriage licenses to gay couples in light of the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage. But at least one Texas clerk who opposes gay marriage on religious grounds doesn't see a need for the exemption.

“Personally, same-sex marriage is a contradiction to my faith and belief that marriage is between one man and one woman,” Denton County Clerk Juli Luke said in a statement Sunday, according to the the Denton Record-Chronicle. “However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family Bible to uphold the law, and as an elected public official, my personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”

Her clerk's office oversaw its first gay marriage Monday morning, the Denton Record-Chronicle. The couple, Sara Bollinger and Whitney Hennen, received their license a little after 8 a.m.

Let her light so shine before Texas officials, that they may see her good works, and glorify their Father which is in heaven...

June 29, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Monday, June 22, 2015

It's Almost Like You Have To Push Pols To Do Stuff


  • I think Haley merits praise for this action.  People called for South Carolina to take down the flag.  She called for it to be taken down.  I, myself, take yes for an answer.  (And while she’s not running again, plenty of public officials in the South who have safe seats or aren’t running again haven’t done the right thing.)
  • Yes, she had to be pushed by a horrible event.  But as Coates says, when it comes to politicians this is very nearly a tautology.  (You think  LBJ would have had a major record of accomplishment on civil rights had he been elected president in 1952?)  Politicians, up to and including Lincoln, act in politically expedient ways, and doing so is integral to progressive success.

Power concedes nothing something something something...


June 22, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Some Vax Sanity In Vermont's Senate

Glad the Senate passed the anti-anti-vaxxer legislation, but man:

Chittenden Sen. David Zuckerman opposed the plan because he thinks parents have a right to determine what's best for their children. "The important factor for me is that the human body itself, our body, is our one vessel that we have complete control over,” he says. “Considering there is evidence of individuals having basically allergic reactions to shots, if we ... force everybody to have them, there are a percentage of our population for whom we are forcing to have these kinds of reactions." 

I used to buy veggies from Zuckerman, and have had cordial exchanges with him over the years on legislative issues--we agree on many, many things.  A bit disappointed that he thinks belief trumps public health, particularly since the percentage of allergic reactions is vanishingly small, and the medical exemption remains.

Of course, people of conscience aren't being forced to do anything, but rather being offered a choice: do what's right for the body politic, or keep your kids home.  It's not like jackbooted thugs are coming to your house and poking your kids full of holes.

Anyway, back to the House, who hopefully will not punt on the issue again.


April 22, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, April 06, 2015

New Anti-gay Business Model


Cake/Flower/Pizza Movement Grows!

A spurt of giving in recent days has racked up 85,000 in gofundme.com contributions for a Washington state florist who was fined $1000 for refusing to sell flowers for a wedding of a gay couple.

Just a few quick hits:

  1. If you really have the courage of your convictions, violate the law (contrary to Romans 13), take the fine, and accept that as just another cost of doing business instead of whining.

  2. This shows that "sane" businesses will, in fact, always turn away customers they don't like.  Already proved during Jim Crow, clearly the "free market" doesn't correct discrimination, especially when there are plenty of rubes to contribute.

  3. I wonder how sustainable the "I'm being persecuted, give me money" model is.  Could Quakers engaged in war tax resistance get the same level of support?  Asking for a Friend.

Alternately, just bake the fucking cake.


April 6, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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Friday, April 03, 2015

A Different Color Of Sin

Sounds like somebody is a Cafeteria Christian:

CNN’s Gary Tuchman visited several florists in rural Georgia and asked if they would provide certain services to gay people. Of course they all said no… because Jesus.

The most telling part of the exchange was this one with florist Melissa Jeffcoat in which she was confronted about the specifics of her bigotry:

Tuchman: … In the Ten Commandments, it says you can’t commit adultery…

Jeffcoat: Right.

Tuchman: It says you need to honor your father and mother.

Jeffcoat: Mhmm.

TuchmanIf someone didn’t honor their parents or committed adultery, would you serve them?


TuchmanWell, why would you serve them but not serve someone who is gay?

JeffcoatIt’s just a different kind of sin to me and I just don’t believe in it.

Good to know the Ten Commandments are just guidelines now!

Regardless, it is a bit unfair to make an attack on this religious component because there are, in fact, different levels of sin according to some folks' traditions (e.g., venial v mortal sins in Catholicism).  It's not hypocritical or even really cherry-picking, but a way of looking at human experience through a particular lens.

Naturally I think that a private behavior is none of these florists' fucking business and harms them not at all as compared to something like greed or incest, which can have a significant societal cost.  But it's also not generally my business what other people believe, unless they try to enshrine it in law or try to use it as an excuse to not follow anti-discrimination law (hello, Romans?).

And then I read this:

There is no doubt that many Christians truly think that by refusing to cater to same-sex marriages, they are simply being faithful to their religious tradition. They’re wrong. But they’re wrong because they lack self-knowledge, not because they are expressing socially unpopular views. And as fun as it may be to publicly sneer at their ignorance and to attribute it to malice, it may be more effective to nudge them toward self-examination, to offer a kind of amnesty for their sins of omission.

You all know that I'm one who enjoys ridicule, and I have no deep sympathy for Memories Pizza in the face of all that backlash (which appears to have turned out quite well for them anyway).  I don't abide threats, but the snark and such are an understandable reaction from people who have suffered from very real persecution.

That said, I can't help but think of Jesus and the Disinherited:

The religion of Jesus says to the disinherited: "Love your enemy.  Take the initiative in seeking ways by which you can have the experience of a common sharing of mutual worth and value.  It may be hazardous, but you must do it."
What one discovers in even a single experience in which barriers have been removed may become useful in building an over-all technique for loving one's enemy.  There cannot be too great insistence on the point that we are here dealing with a discipline, a method, a technique, as over against some form of wishful thinking or simply desiring.

If I might edit some of Thurman's words: 

For the [gay rights advocate] it means that he must see the individual [discriminating vendor] in the context of common humanity.  The fact that a particular individual is [religious], and therefore may be regarded in some over-all sense as the [political] enemy, must be faced; and opportunity must be provided, found, or created for freeing such an individual from his "[hetero] necessity."  From this point on, the relationship becomes like any other primary one.
A whole group may be regarded as an exception, and thus one is relieved of any necessity to regard them as human beings.  A [gay rights advocate] may say: "If a man is [religious], he may be automatically classified as one incapable of dealing with me as if he were a rational human being."  Or it may be just the reverse.  Such a mood, the mood of exception, operates in all sorts of ways...The deadly consequences of this attitude are evident.  On the same principle scapegoats are provided, upon whose helpless heads we pour our failures and our fears.

I still won't tolerate anti-gay bigotry any more than I do racism, but maybe the kind of sin of a baker or florist answering hypotheticals is different from the Klan or Illinois Nazis marching or committing acts of violence, or even a governor signing a discriminatory law.  We probably could cut them a little slack and take advantage of the teachable moment instead of giving them a chance to play the martyr card.


April 3, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Since America Is A Judeo-Christian Nation, I Hear Tell

The Christians in Indiana should remember Hillel:

[A] Gentile came to Shamai saying: "Convert me on the condition that thou teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Shamai pushed him away with the builders' measure he held in his hand. He thereupon came to Hillel, and the latter accepted him. He told him: "What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow; this is the whole law. All the rest is a commentary to this law; go and learn it."

You know, the Golden Pizza Rule, and all that...


April 1, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Speaking Of Friendly Boycotts

American Friend Service Committee on something dear to my heart:

In the context of Israel and Palestine AFSC supports the the use of boycott and divestment campaigns targeting only companies that support the occupation, settlements, militarism, or any other violations of international humanitarian or human rights law. Our position does not call for a full boycott of Israel nor of companies because they are either Israeli or doing business in Israel.  Our actions also never focus on individuals.

Our support for the use of boycotts and divestments is contextualized by Quakers and AFSC's long support for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as economic tactics that appeal to human conscience and change behavior. In the 1800s, Quakers helped lead the “Free Produce Movement,” a boycott of goods produced using slave labor. In recent times, AFSC has participated in boycott and divestment campaigns connected to the in the civil rights, anti-apartheid, farm worker, and prison rights struggles.

Since 1948 AFSC has worked with both Palestinians and Israelis to achieving a just and lasting peace and we remain committed to supporting nonviolent activism designed to achieve this end. Taking into account AFSC principles and history, AFSC supports all nonviolent efforts to realize peace and justice in Israel and Palestine including the strategic use of boycott, divestment, and sanctions tactics.

For some reason, lots of Soda Stream crap has been popping up in my feeds, so I felt compelled to remind people that they are very, very bad and should not be supported by all right thinking people.


March 27, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana, Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Day Of Prayer And Fasting For Indiana

Bobby is a good friend and Friend, but I think misses the mark here:

I am not a fan of boycotts; they rarely work and harm innocent people who depend on the boycotted industry or place.

Part of the point is to harm people in a nonviolent, recoverable way so they see the impact of their (in)action in the face of grave injustice.  And boycotts enjoy a long, effective history.

Anyway, my buddy continues:

However, it would be very un-Quakerly to embarrass the good religious people of Indiana by giving them my gay business or my gay money, so I will not put them in the awkward position of having to accept it as long as this legalized gay-bashing is in place. I’m sure they will understand that I’m doing them a big favor.

It sort of reminds me of this scene from Gandhi.  Yes, I compared a blogger to the Mahatma.


March 26, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

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Friday, March 20, 2015

He Rested On The Ninth Day From All His Emoting

Friends Journal asks: "What is the most powerful emotional experience you’ve had in a Meeting for Worship?"

Well, if you really want to know, listen to a podcast from way back in 2007.  Shorter: sitting in Meeting at a war tax resister gathering surrounded by like-minded activists, I wept whilst looking at an empty chair, thinking of my late mother.  Community is important.


March 20, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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The Gospel Of Freedom

They're so cute when they try to co-opt MLK:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail. “A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God,” he argued. “An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”

He went on to say: “I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’”

Such resistance is the very opposite of lawlessness. Dr. King set forth four steps to resist injustice: (1) gathering of facts, (2) negotiation, (3) self-purification and (4) direct action. We must learn more so we can see more. We have a duty to be informed. We must use all civil means to resolve the conflict. And, we must humbly seek the Lord before taking direct action.

One suspects that if they actually gathered facts as Dr King suggests, they'd find that marriage equality is not a threat to their civil liberties, whilst denying rights to LGBT is unjust.  So any disobedience is not civil in the context, but just another rejection of Romans 13.


PS--Civil disobedience is for pikers.  I encourage the bigots to prepare for martyrdom!

March 20, 2015 in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Holding Juanita Nelson In The Light

Juanita Nelson on Democracy Now! discussing War Tax Resistance, Civil Rights & Simple Living.

Being absorbed in personal things this week, I failed to notice that Juanita (one of Gram's contemporaries) had died on Monday.  I met her in Deerfield at a WTR gathering several years back, and was very humbled by her life's example.  She blazed with a light that should provide a moral beacon for us all.


March 14, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Diane Nash Still Defiant And Heroic

Agree wholeheartedly with Anthony:

It is wonderful to read about and hear one of the great heroines of the Civil Rights struggle,  Diane Nash, continuing to witness for the truth and against those who are trying to co-opt the history of civil rights in the form of George W. Bush.  She refused to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge due to his clearly political participation in it.  

Read the whole thing.  Nash rocks.


March 9, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Sunday, February 08, 2015

I Swear Every Goddamned Day

Pinky swear?

Swearing an oath on the Christian Bible is problematic, at best. This is a book, after all, that includes the words of Jesus Christ himself commanding his followers not to swear oaths:

Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.” 

But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 

Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No;” anything more than this comes from the evil one.

That’s unambiguous and pretty strongly worded. Swearing by or swearing on something, Jesus said, is “evil.”

Quakers aren't supposed to swear--talking about oaths, of course, as my potty mouth is a separate issue--for the very reason that Jesus says not to do that shit in Matthew 5.  Got us into trouble a lot back in the early days:

The most distinguishing characteristic of Quakerism under all conditions and in all periods of its history has been fidelity to the principle against taking the oath. No other single Quaker "testimony" has caused so much suffering. The Quaker carried most of his contention for justice before the Courts of England, where the test oath of fidelity was always promptly offered him.

Possibly no more embarrassing situation can be imagined than that of a thoroughly loyal subject—for this the Quakers were, to a man—obliged to decline to assert his fidelity to his sovereign because of the form in which he was asked to declare it. The consequence of his refusal—and he always did refuse—was the accusation of disloyalty to the Government.

By the time the Quakers had become well known throughout England, most of the Justices before whom they were arraigned were perfectly well aware of their real loyalty to the sovereign, and put the test oath to such a proverbially truthtelling people merely to furnish an excuse for persecution. It is not too much to say that in England more Quakers were imprisoned for not taking the oath than for any other cause.

The Quakers declared that Christ's command, "Swear not at all," covered all cases, legal and otherwise, that the oath implied a double standard of truth-telling, and that the administration of an oath is an appeal to superstition, in the upraised hand, kissing the book, etc.

Anyway, here's the nut of this post:

 “Judge Rules Pa. Muslim May Not Swear on Koran“:

A Pennsylvania judge forbade a Muslim woman from swearing on the Quran before taking the witness stand in a custody dispute. The ruling upholds a state law that requires witnesses to swear on the Christian Bible or make a non-religious affirmation before offering testimony.

The woman had argued that the state’s law violated her religious liberty rights and exhibited a preference for Christianity over Islam and other religions.

She’s got a strong First Amendment case, I think. The Christian Bible requirement for Pennsylvania courts seems like a clear violation of the Establishment Clause, and as a result this woman’s free exercise rights seem to have been violated.

Pennsylvania’s law seems unconstitutional — which is to say that Pennsylvania’s law seems unlawful.

That’s important, but it’s not my main complaint here. My main complaint is that Pennsylvania’s law is incredibly stupid and counter-productive. The function of the Bible in such oath-swearing is to solemnize the oath by referencing a symbol the witnesses themselves regard with reverence. If the witnesses do not belong to a sect that regards a sectarian text with reverence, then that text cannot function as a symbol to solemnize their oath.

Asking a Muslim or a Jew or an atheist to swear on a Christian Bible undermines the force of the ritual. If there’s any Christian reading this who doesn’t understand that, simply flip the script. Imagine you’re being asked to swear on the Koran. Or on the Bhagavad Gita. Or on any other text that you do not personally revere. Would reference to that text in any way enhance or solemnize your oath?

Requiring witnesses to swear by a text they do not personally revere adds nothing. It can even have the opposite of the intended effect — rather than making the oath seem more serious, it can make it seem less so.

Indeed, it does strike me as counterproductive, as well as ignorantly insensitive and arguably unconstitutional.  Both the US Constitution and PA constitution allow for affirmations in a variety of contexts (e.g., binding Federal officers to defend the Constitution; supporting the issuance of search warrants), so it's clear the Framers thought it important to provide an alternative to oaths in the British tradition (even tied it to the ban on religious tests for Federal qualification in the same clause).

However, according to the news report above, affirmation was presented as an option to the witness in question, so she didn't have to swear on a Christian Bible.  With that in mind I'm not sure it really violates Establishment.  It's just annoying and privileged, and unlikely to ever change (leastwise not the biggest battle I care to fight).


PS--Franklin Pierce is apparently the only president to ever affirm at his inaugural ceremony.

February 8, 2015 in Conscience, Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Path Of Truth Is The Path Of The Brave

I've been in some discussion about non-violence given the various forms of protest we've seen since the Darren Wilson Exoneration Jury.  I naturally agree that rioting is counterproductive in general, but I both empathize (in the sense I posted about yesterday), and to a certain degree sympathize, with people engaging in such rebellion.

It's particularly important to recognize that people need the "space" to practice NV, and that's not necessarily available to the dispossessed.  By that I mean people need the opportunity to move up Maslow's hierarchy (or however you want to describe it, knowing that model might not be perfect) beyond meeting bare survival needs, be exposed to NV action and strategy, develop connections to others for coordinating NV efforts, etc.

So yeah, NV methods might be the "best" to achieve justice in Ferguson and elsewhere (both from a moral and practical perspective), but that's easy for me to say from my privileged position.  I was raised in the Quaker tradition more or less, spent decades learning about NV movements and how to apply NV tactics in a variety of circumstances, and of course benefit from the current power structures rather than being oppressed by them, so don't really know what it's like to suffer from repeated injustices.

With that as backdrop, I ran into some resistance to what I've expressed here (admittedly a little more thought out than when I'm quickly typing on Facebook).  I don't just mean the usual "that shit'll never work" canard, but also my allowing for even violent (or at least destructive) responses to oppression.

I'll not get into the exchanges' weeds, but merely (re)state my thesis: violence is a natural, human response to negative exogenous developments so engaging in NV can be rather hard, which is why it's a tool of the strong and really has to be learned and practiced.  Yes, even Gandhi and King couldn't get everybody to adopt their philosophy, despite all the charisma they brought to bear--both also understood the reasons for violence by the oppressed, and sought to not only educate but foster the conditions where more people could join them.

I don't have much of a narrative beyond that, but wanted to share some excerpted writings that have long formed the basis for my ideas on NV.

One thing that still surprises me that people are surprised by is that even Gandhi himself didn't expect everybody to follow his path of satyagraha.  One reason he undertook satyagrahic fasts was to interrupt default violent processes and shame people a little so they'd reflect and perhaps do a better job going the NV route, but he also hated the idea of passivity, impotence and cowardice.

For example, he wrote in The Gita and Satyagraha:

I have been repeating over and over again that he who cannot protect himself or his nearest and dearest or their honour by non-violently facing death, may and ought to do so by violently dealing with the oppressor. He who can do neither of the two is a burden. 

I don't mean to suggest that he advocated violence per se.  Rather, he decried inaction, and while he practiced NV and wanted others to as well, the Mahatma saw acceptance of evil to be worse than violent resistance to evil.  This was an extremely common theme in his writings.

It seems clear to me that Gandhi understood how non-obvious his form of NV was.  He noted this in Young India (November 5, 1919):

The way of satyagraha is distinct from the beaten track and it is not always easy to discover it. Few have ventured along that path and the footprints on it are few and far between and indistinct, and hence the people's dread of it. And still we clearly find people taking that course, be it ever so slowly.

Ever so slowly, as Dr King still had to observe in Why We Can't Wait (1963):

Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh.

And when accepting the Nobel (1964)

[N]onviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time - the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts. Negroes of the United States, following the people of India, have demonstrated that nonviolence is not sterile passivity, but a powerful moral force which makes for social transformation. 

Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. 

I see all of this as acceptance of the immutable fact that humanity's conscience and society have to evolve as much as all other aspects of our existence.  Not unlike MLK (and Thurman) built upon the learning and practice of Gandhi--the former not even admitting the value of violence over impotence as the latter did, yet still understanding why the downtrodden might rise up in less constructive ways.

I'll have more to say about that in a while, following up on King's language of the unheard.  For now digest the offerings above, and consider that if you're judging rioters in the way I've seen people do ("I respected King, not that" or "it doesn't win my sympathy") then you are not being a part of the solution.


December 6, 2014 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack