How to do nonviolent resistance (part 2 of 3)
Third, nonviolent resistance condemns systems, ideas or policies that oppress but never launches personal attacks against individuals who are the agents of
the system itself. If we cannot assume the good will of those who oppose us we must at least not judge their motives. Ideas and systems are bigger than any single person. To attack individuals in order to curb a sinful system only plays into the hands of the system itself by failing to focus attention where
attention is necessary.
Fourth, nonviolent resistance absorbs physical attack without striking back physically. Suffragettes went to jail to win the vote and never struck a blow. Women and men faced attack dogs in Selma, Alabama, to win the right to be human beings without themselves becoming barbaric in the process. It was row upon row of Indians falling to their knees under the gratuitous blows of their English masters that sent a chill up the spine of a colonial world. Nonviolent resistance unmasks the inhumanity of oppression and gives all of us another chance to repent and begin again to be thinking, feeling human beings.
—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.)