By Ryan Hall // with Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence
As a younger activist, wading between Generation X and the millennials – I’ve been working for peace and justice issues since I was a teenager. Over the years I began to feel that the social justice issues I cared about would eventually take hold, we just had to be patient. Like the progress of technology it seemed to me that things would naturally improve over time. This seemingly unstoppable momentum building towards a better world however lulled me into a feeling that my work may not be as important as it once was. I told myself that while we still have a long way to go, I had faith that as a country we would achieve the good things we set out to do, end poverty and racism, heal the planet, stop endless wars and so much more. How could this not be the case with so many powerful groups working for change?
Tuesday changed that.
Suddenly I felt that momentum was wiped away and what I held to be true about the likelihood of change was only a fiction I told myself. It hurt and it still does. For the first time I felt anger and pain that I had never felt before. I knew that these candidates were both seriously flawed, but like so many I believed that we wouldn’t fall for the candidate spewing hatred. Yet here we are.
I was naive, but I’ve since come away from this with a renewed sense of purpose that I’m sure many of my elder colleagues already knew – we have to keep working for a new culture of peace, justice and nonviolence even when positive change seems likely and especially when it seems impossible. The moment we stop is the moment our forward momentum starts reversing course.
Over these last few years, many might have sat back and not put as much energy and resources into movement building. Now however, in this impossible moment, we all have to start building that forward momentum back up again. This is our chance to awaken those sleepy eyed peacemakers waiting for the moment to get involved and we have already seen it happening. People have hit the streets ready for action, looking for ways to express their pain and frustration, but so many are missing the critical element of nonviolence. Without nonviolence the only message those outside our movement hear are voices of hate, fear and reactionary violence. We cannot let this take hold, the time is now for nonviolence.
It’s clear that people feel the need to do something, and the truth is we must. We no longer have the luxury of sitting on the sidelines. Below are a few ways you might consider getting involved to help bring the message of nonviolence into your community. We can make a choice today, continue as we have been and let the next few years turn back the clock on our work for peace, justice and nonviolence or stand together and start preparing for strategic nonviolent action to resist the further injustices and wars that may be upon us.