ChangeFamily/CommunicationReflectionFebruary 3, 20170Practical Activism

This is the time to be relentless in standing up for what you believe, to protect our rights, our freedoms, and our beautiful and singular planet.

“For more than a cen­tu­ry, from 1900 to 2006, cam­paigns of non­vi­o­lent resis­tance were more than twice as effec­tive as their vio­lent coun­ter­parts in achiev­ing their stat­ed goals. By attract­ing impres­sive sup­port from cit­i­zens, whose activism takes the form of protests, boy­cotts, civ­il dis­obe­di­ence, and oth­er forms of non­vi­o­lent non­co­op­er­a­tion, these efforts help sep­a­rate regimes from their main sources of pow­er and pro­duce remark­able results…”

Why Civ­il Resis­tance Works: The Strate­gic Log­ic of Non­vi­o­lent Con­flict, by Eri­ca Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan. Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty Press

I am not a fan of the new admin­is­tra­tion; I now deeply fear for our civ­il lib­er­ties, our human rights, and the fate of the plan­et. Like mil­lions of peo­ple around the US and even around the world, I’m ask­ing, “What can I do to pro­tect the rights and free­doms that are most impor­tant to me, and to the US?”

And I’m find­ing answers; good prac­ti­cal answers that work for me, and that lever­age the time-hon­ored pos­i­tive pow­er of civ­il resis­tance.  I’m expe­ri­enc­ing the pow­er of match­ing words to actions.  Here are the two places I’m focused on putting my ener­gy right now:

The Indi­vis­i­ble Guide is a hand­book put togeth­er by for­mer Con­gres­sion­al staffers, billed as “best prac­tices for mak­ing con­gress lis­ten.”  The guide itself is prac­ti­cal and test­ed; the authors based it on the approach used by the Tea Par­ty to (suc­cess­ful­ly) push back against Oba­ma’s agen­da. Even more excit­ing, it has spawned hun­dreds of local groups that are imple­ment­ing its approach­es at this moment.  In fact, this morn­ing my hus­band and I joined about a dozen oth­er peo­ple from the indi­vis­i­bleul­ster chap­ter to agree on a sin­gle issue (we chose the ACA) and walk to Rep. Faso’s Kingston, NY office to share our point of view. While there, we spoke with staff mem­bers and arranged to meet with his leg­isla­tive staffer, who can set up face-to-face meet­ings for us with Faso. When we came back out­side, we encoun­tered a small demon­stra­tion — also Indi­vis­i­ble-based, and also focused on the ACA.

When we were speak­ing with Faso’s staff, a few mem­bers of our group not­ed that they had repeat­ed­ly called or emailed the con­gress­man­’s office and had received no reply.  The staffer respond­ed, “It’s just been so busy for the past month — I’m sure it will calm down soon.” A few of us smiled and said, “No. It won’t.”

The sec­ond place I’m focus­ing my ener­gy is with my own exist­ing net­work.  Thus, this post.  I’m also using twit­ter and face­book to share real infor­ma­tion (as opposed to “alter­na­tive facts”) about what the admin­is­tra­tion is doing, and to encour­age non-vio­lent action to resist racism, author­i­tar­i­an­ism, cor­rup­tion and vio­la­tions of our constitution.

I am a relent­less­ly opti­mistic per­son.  Gen­er­al­ly, I see that as a strength, but some­times it has been a weak­ness. I am hope­ful (opti­mistic?) that, in this sit­u­a­tion, it will be a strength. Because I do see a sil­ver lin­ing in our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. When­ev­er I look at all the — to me — ter­ri­fy­ing and sad­den­ing events of  the past few months, I also see the response:  the polit­i­cal awak­en­ing of lit­er­al­ly mil­lions of peo­ple who have nev­er in their lives felt strong­ly enough about any polit­i­cal issue to act upon their con­vic­tions.  They — we — are march­ing, call­ing, speak­ing up, offer­ing time, mon­ey, exper­tise, knowledge.

“Non-coop­er­a­tion with evil is as much a duty as is coop­er­a­tion with good.”

- Mahat­ma Gandhi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *