By Ken Butigan
“Truth is such a rare thing, it is a delight to tell it,” poet Emily Dickinson wrote in the 19th century. These days, the truth seems even rarer than usual—and must therefore be told all the more urgently.
As the Washington Post has documented, 4229 false or misleading statements have been made by the current administration between the inauguration last year and July 31, 2018—and the daily rate seems to be accelerating. The blizzard of false statements has been so relentless that, rather than provoking the public outrage that may have irretrievably undermined any other presidency, it is the truth itself that has been damaged. A steady barrage of falsehoods masquerading as facts has not only devalued truth as the bedrock currency of civil society, it has fueled a plethora of policies and priorities that are increasing violence and injustice.
We are fast approaching the moment of truth—not only to increase our nonviolent resistance to the tsunami of long-term destructive policies that the government is promulgating, but to challenge one of the foundations of this relentless assault: the brick-by-brick dismantling of what is true.
This is why Campaign Nonviolence will be marching in Washington, DC on Saturday, September 22 as part of its National Convergence. In the run up to the pivotal fall mid-term elections, we stand at a crossroads: More violence and injustice? Or the recovery of truth and nonviolent options?
Or, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr put it even more dramatically the night before he died fifty years ago, Nonviolence or nonexistence?
At this moment of truth, we will take responsibility for saying yes and saying no – “yes” to a culture of nonviolence, and “no” to the new normal of falsehoods that increases the prospect of war, stokes racism, promotes economic inequality, and weakens the full court press needed to tackle the growing climate crisis.
During the Campaign Nonviolence Convergence in Washington, we will rally at Dr. King’s memorial near the National Mall, march silently two-by-two to the White House, and vigil there.
At the centerpiece of this event, we will publicly resist the growing culture of deceit, and call upon the nation to renew its commitment to the truth. For this purpose, we are inviting people to each march to the White House with a sign bearing one of these statements—and to call for a new course as a nation.
We will take this action in the spirit of nonviolence. We will gather in the nation’s capital not about single out any one person. Rather, we seek to challenge the fortress of falsity that is growing before our eyes, and the short and long-term impact that this violence is having on innumerable people and the planet. We are motivated by consternation, grief, and compassion – and by a longing for a culture of nonviolence marked by the truth of peace, racial justice, environmental healing, and economic sustainability for all.
This Washington-DC convergence is part of the Campaign Nonviolence Action Week, September 15-23, with more than 2,000 public actions in all 50 states and around the world. Campaign Nonviolence is a project of Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service.
Please consider organizing a local Campaign Nonviolence event in your city or area, and, if possible, come to Washington, DC in September at this critical moment of truth.
In this time of crisis, we can make the truth less rare—and even delight in telling it.
The Campaign Nonviolence Convergence will take place on September 21-22, 2018. On Friday, Sept. 21 we will gather for training and reflection at The Festival Center in Washington; on Saturday, Sept. 22, we will rally at the King Memorial at 9 a.m. and march to the White House. To carry one of the statements on September 22, please visit TheMomentofTruth.us, where you will learn more about the events in Washington, including the assignment of one of the 4,229 misleading statements. This list has been compiled by the Washington Post. For more information: CampaignNonviolence.org, firstname.lastname@example.org. 510-268-8765.
Ken Butigan teaches Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, and is a strategist with Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service.