Reflection 1st February 2015

How to do nonviolent resistance (part 1 of 3)

Nonviolent resistance, derived from Mahatma Gandhi and modelled by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil-rights movement of the sixties, rests on six clear
concepts, none of them cowardly, insipid or weak. They are, rather, a demonstration of the kind of strength no amount of violence can extinguish.
First, nonviolent resistance is pacifism, not passivism. The difference between armed resistance and nonviolent resistance lies simply in the means by which the resistance is waged. Both types of resistance rest on the conviction that evil must be challenged, but nonviolent resistance insists that evil must not be repeated in the effort to defeat it. The strength of nonviolent resistance lies in its determination to do no harm to the other in the course of resisting harm. Gandhi wrote, “If there is blood in the streets, it must be no one’s but our own.”

Second, nonviolent resistance is committed to making friends out of enemies. The goal of nonviolent resistance is to concentrate on issues rather than on belittling, demeaning, destroying the people who hold positions different from our own. Nonviolent resistance calls us to distinguish between enmity and opposition.

—from Heart of Flesh: a feminist spirituality for women and men, by Joan Chittister (Eerdmans), reprinted in Joan Chittister: Essential Writings, ed. Mary Lou Kownacki and Mary Hembrow Snyder (Orbis).

(Reflections are provided each week by a member of the congregation.)

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