Tuesday, July 24, 2012

CBC Daybreak Radio Chat

This morning I had the pleasure to catch up with Mike Finnerty and the whole crew at CBC Daybreak Radio. Mike was a great host and asked me about topics ranging from Peace Pandemic to Twitter. Take a listen!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Nonviolence Lesson 101

In honor of one of my favorite Professors in college, John Darby, I wanted to write a short piece on nonviolence. Professor Darby passed away this year but I will never forget the lessons of nonviolence that he taught me. Nonviolence is often labeled as "taboo" or "impractical" but when looked at in depth, actually reveals itself to be quite effective.

The force of nonviolence has not only been a powerful force against injustice but also a commonly misunderstood topic in the world. When people first think of nonviolence they immediately think of pacifism or something of that similar "soft" nature. The Gandhian method however looks at pacifism through an entirely different lens. Gandhi used it as a way to overcome injustice and alter political objectives while still staying true to moral principles.

Another one of my revered Professors, David Cortright states it another way, "he (Gandhi) helped to bridge the gap between pure pacifism and resistance to evil by turning religious principles into methods of social change."

Gandhi himself had many inspirations for this movement including the teaches of Jesus as well as the Jain and Buddhist traditions. It does not matter what if you are religious, spiritual or atheist... pacifism is a value to be shared as much as it is a movement. The Gandhian method centers itself around taking different perspectives and putting them through the medium of nonviolent social action into a higher truth.

One of the true merits of nonviolence is its ability to achieve "victory" or end to conflict without malice or bitterness. This was exemplified in the "relatively" peaceful Indian independence from the British in 1947. A common misconception today about nonviolence is that it is a passive exercise where people just let oppressors walk over them or kill them. This is simply NOT true about nonviolent movements. Rather, they are an active force of pressure and love as well as another option rather than war or inaction to fight against injustice. It is a respect for the adversary with defiance of his policies or agendas. Gandhi himself said that there is nothing passive about resistance to social evil. This is exemplified in his education in Satygraha- a concept that essentially involves action and willingness to change while accepting new understandings of truth.

One key importance in making a nonviolent resistance successful is the piercing of the consciences of the adversaries AND third parties. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. shared a common philosophy that the first step in every nonviolent campaign must be collecting all the facts and publicizing the issues. The true effectiveness of the Gandhian method lies within the combination of moral persuasion and social pressure.

The topic of sacrifice is also debated amongst the followers and critics of nonviolence. Nonviolent followers who stand up to repressive authority will face hardships and may even suffer physical harm or death. This is what Gandhi states as true strength. The oppressors who resort to violence are displaying weakness and desperation while the nonviolent resistors are showing strength. Cortright said that the ability to shed fear is the key to gaining freedom while Gandhi and MLK believed that cowardice was a greater evil than violence. This was not to condone violence in any way but it was a call to people to have personal bravery in their fight against injustice and violence. Love is transcended through nonviolent actions and hits the hearts of the oppressors as well as third parties.

Human love crosses all boundaries of religion. Agape, which Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized in his teachings, is love for the sake of love and the unrestrained giving of self.

THE TRUE essence of nonviolent action: Resist with Love not Hate.

RIP Professor Darby.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Steadfast Courage

Here is an excerpt from "Courage" by Charles Wagner. I absolutely love his words and directness in speaking about this topic. This ties in with a previous post, A Guide For Real Men. Enjoy.


From Courage, 1894
By Charles Wagner
"Steadfastness is the indispensable quality of every man who one day does not wish to be obliged to say: “I have wasted my life.”
A man should not incessantly change with every impression of the moment, but should remain steadfast when he has once determined upon what is right. Of what use are the flowers if they do not produce fruits, and of good ideas if they are not transmuted into deeds? We must encourage stability, habituate ourselves to remain constant, and when we are sure that we are right, must fortify ourselves against invasion. Do not let criticisms or attacks disturb you.
Nothing is so difficult as to remain faithful. At each step of the way outside influences are brought to bear upon us to make us deviate or retrograde. And if there were only difficulties from without, it would not matter so much; but there are those from within. Our dispositions vacillate. We promise one thing with the best intentions in the world; but when the time comes to keep it, everything is changed–the circumstances, men, ourselves; and what duty demands of us seems so different from what we had foreseen, that we hesitate. Those who will fulfill on a rainy day a promise which they have made on a sunny one, are few and far between.
And so we go on casting our hearts to the four winds, giving it and taking it back again, breaking with our past, separating ourselves from ourselves, so to speak. And when we look behind, we no longer recognize ourselves. We see ourselves in the days that are past as a stranger, or rather as several strangers.
There is nothing like a steadfast man, one in whom you can have confidence, one who is found at his post, who arrives punctually, and who can be trusted when you rely on him. He is worth his weight in gold. You can take your bearings from him, because he is sure to be where he ought to be, and nowhere else. The majority of individuals, on the contrary, are sure to be anywhere but where they ought to be. You have only to take them into your calculations to be deceived. Some of them are changeable from weakness of character; they cannot resist attacks, insinuations, and, above all, cannot remain faithful to a lost cause. A defeat in their eyes is a demonstration of the fact that their adversary was right and that they were wrong. When they see their side fail, instead of closing up the ranks, they go over to the enemy. These are the men who are always found on the winning side, and not in their hearts would be found the courageous device: Victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.
A profound duplicity, a discrepancy between words and deeds, between appearance and reality, a sort of moral dilettantism which makes us according to the hour sincere or hypocritical, brave or cowardly, honest or unscrupulous–this is the disease which consumes us. What moral force can germinate and grow under these conditions? We must again become men who have only one principle, one word, one work, one love; in a word, men with a sense of duty. This is the source of power. And without this there is only the phantom of a man, the unstable sand, and hollow reed which bends beneath every breath. Be faithful; this is the changeless northern star which will guide you through the vicissitudes of life, through doubts and discouragements, and even mistakes."