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Babes in Arms:Stepping Into the Lineage of Nonviolence

Posted by Ryan Hall

Part of A Retrospective Series on the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions 2014 as we approach the Week of Actions 2015.

by Rivera Sun

Ventura CA-Protestor and baby

Jake Donaldson, and infant, Anaïs, demonstrating for peace in Ventura, CA during the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions Sept 21-27th, 2014.

A young father stands with a protest sign in hand, his one-week-old daughter curled in a sling across his chest. The handwritten sign reads, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. – Gandhi”. The infant’s eyes had hardly opened on the world before she saw several things she might not fully understand for decades:

The world has problems.
Her father is willing to take action.
The lineage of nonviolence surrounds her.

September 24, 2014, Jake Donaldson took his infant daughter, Anaïs, with him to a peaceful demonstration in Ventura, CA, as part of the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions. The day, a small but dedicated group — from Ventura County’s Veterans for Peace, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, Maryknoll, and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship — joined together at the entrance to the Naval Base in Port Hueneme to protest US militarism and call for a culture of peace and justice.

That same week – in all 50 states and beyond – the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions engaged thousands of people in nearly 250 nonviolent actions – including marches, rallies, demonstrations, civil disobedience, vigils, prayer circles, sit-ins, and more. The citizens addressed war, poverty, the climate crisis and the culture of violence that gives rise to injustice, hate, and destruction. Campaign Nonviolence is a movement initiated by the thirty-year old nonviolence organization, Pace e Bene, co-founded by Franciscan Louie Vitale. The movement seeks to mainstream nonviolence and bring every aspect of the active practice of nonviolence into the lives of ordinary people.

Campaign Nonviolence invokes the lineage of nonviolence from Dorothy Day to Bacha Khan, to St. Francis, to Cesar Chavez, infusing the spirit of these incredible people into our modern world. One strand of the global nonviolent lineage can be traced from Jesus to the Quakers to Tolstoy to Gandhi to Dr. King and right on down to Jake Donaldson’s daughter.

Through the often-overwhelming crises of today, Campaign Nonviolence challenges us to stretch our visionary capacity toward the potential of tomorrow and see the dawning of a world without the looming threats of climate change, nuclear annihilation, endless war, extrajudicial murders of citizens by police, or the debilitating injustice of institutionalized poverty. Instead, Campaign Nonviolence engages citizens in building a world in which Jake Donaldson’s daughter – and all the children of this beloved earth – can breathe the air and drink the water and walk in peace.

Campaign Nonviolence asks people nationwide and beyond to use our visionary capacity to lay a groundwork of action today. Where will we be in 100 years? In twenty years? By the September 2015 Week of Actions? Can we find the spiritual audacity to set the measure of our determination by an infant child? By the time she is old enough to walk, march, hold a sign at a demonstration, lead the chants and songs, or organize her student friends, how will our culture of active nonviolence have grown? Can we say to one another that, by the time she is old enough to hold the next generation in her arms, we will see the sun rise on a world that lives and breathes in the tradition of nonviolence? 

To hold such a vision is outrageous! In a world fraught with violence, to envision, proclaim, and work with practical determination toward a nonviolent, peaceful culture takes the audacity of Jesus Christ, the determination of Mahatma Gandhi, the tenacity of Dorothy Day, and the humble, everyday courage of Jake Donaldson, who stepped into the lineage of nonviolence with his infant daughter in his arms.

Thousands nationwide will be engaging in nonviolent action during the Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions Sept 20-27th, 2015, to end war, poverty, the climate crisis and all forms of violence. You can participate and join with others in your local community! Learn more, find a local action, or add an action here.

Author/Activist Rivera Sun is the social media director for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. She is the author of three social protest novels, The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha, and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars. She is the cohost of Occupy Radio and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. Her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. Rivera Sun lives in an earthship house in Taos, New

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