Written by Campaign Nonviolence Organizer in Houston, TX Jerry Monroe Maynard. Originally posted on Reflection for the Journey.
Americans tend to only act upon their convictions when it gets to a point of extreme necessity. We tend to live in a culture that runs on the notion of “as long as it does not affect me or my friends/family, then it does not concern me”. Yet, when tragedy hits us, and our bubble is busted, we cry out in outrage. As long as we are “comfortable” and have a feeling that we are “secure”, we are willing to let others go on with what they are doing/saying even if it is unjust or immoral. This is why after 911 Americans were more than willing to let the Federal Government invade privacy and violate civil liberties. Most Americans felt uncomfortable due to the sense that they lost the false security that this culture thrived on.
But there seems to be a shift in the wind….The cycle is beginning to break……
More and more the common person is becoming increasingly more informed and engaged. People are starting to express themselves more than is typical for most Americans of this generation. Younger people are feeling the need to establish their generation as an impactful and mindful generation. Men, Women, and everyone in between, are starting to openly display their frustration and admiration for what is going on in the world and in our country.
Most of the outward displays and demonstrations that have been occurring throughout this country, have been due to the increase of violence, apathy, and ignorance which seems to be ramped across this nation. Mothers, Fathers, Religious Leaders, and Civic Authorities are beginning to take note of the fact that things are not going away and in most cases, are getting worse.
Due to gun violence, rape, murder, political malpractice, and overall social unrest, people are starting to realize that the time has come to go beyond the ordinary means of solving crisis.
This new wave of social consciousness or awareness, has very much influenced and expanded, most recently, due to an increase notice of how American Cities are dealing with Homeless/Disenfranchised people. Specifically, how American Cities are reacting to an increase number of homeless/disenfranchised people being cared for by Charities and Human Rights Activists.
Recently, people have begun to protest regularly and risk arrest through acts of civil disobedience, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. One man in particular who has been in the news is named, Arnold Abbott. He is a Homeless Rights Advocate who has openly spoken out and civilly disobeyed the City Ordinance that forbids people from feeding the homeless. See link below for full story.
I think this is something that is very prevalent and needs not only demonstrations in Florida but also throughout the country. No one should be criminalized for doing what is morally just, and intrinsically good. So, whether you are advocating for homeless, protesting drones, demonstrating against gun violence, or advocating for fair job wages, I would like to encourage you to take hold of your convictions and get out of your comfort zone! It is time for us to STEP UP, STEP OUT, AND STEP TOGETHER FOR JUSTICE!
I encourage you to begin civilly resisting injustice in your area by following these 5 strategic steps:
1. Nonviolent Mindset/Lifestyle: Any demonstration you organize must have people involved who are well-trained in nonviolent tactics/methodologies and who follow through with them. Nonviolence is key to your success. We do not want to lower ourselves to the standards of violence. We want to rise above and go beyond through just/peaceful means.
2. Encourage Political/Social Action: Get people talking, questioning, shouting, organizing, and expressing their convictions. Civil resistance, civil disobedience, and nonviolence should begin to become dinner conversation. Invite influential leaders to help you in your efforts. True Patriots dissent from the norm and choose not to cooperate with injustice. Ben Franklin always said “Dissent is the highest form of Patriotism”.
3. Public Place: You want all demonstrations to be done in public. When demonstrating in public areas you put yourself in the public domain, thus creating intrigue and awareness among bystanders. Also, this puts a direct challenge to public officials who do not like dissenting voices in public, because they know the power people having in creating change!
4. Power in Numbers: You want a large group of people participating in your demonstration. Everyone should have tasks to do during the demonstration. Some people should be assigned the task of being those involved in nonviolent direct action, and risk arrest. Others should be media persons who take pictures/videos for evidence in defense and for social awareness. Others should be assigned the task to boost morale by singing, chanting, dancing, etc. And still others should just be there silently protesting and offering informational handouts to people who pass by. This should be well organized and everything should be done in the Spirit of Nonviolence.
5. REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!: BUILD A MOVEMENT! Keep demonstrating, resisting, and advocating. These problems will not go away unless we band together and “be the change we wish to see in the world”. –Gandhi
Do not fear to practice non-cooperation. It is your right as a human being to speak your mind and act upon your beliefs. When you stand tall, no one can ride your back. So, stand tall and……
STEP UP. STEP OUT. STEP TOGETHER FOR JUSTICE!