This I Believe

Gregory - Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Entered on January 26, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
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I believe in nonviolence. Nonviolence is often viewed in our political world as a tactic. Most of us will stop on Martin Luther King’s Birthday and reflect on his nonviolent legacy and service. But even as we celebrate, we are surrounded by the violence of our world.

As a Quaker a member of the Religious Society of Friends, I am called to live a life of seeking. It is a process which leads me to believe that, there is that of God in each person. Sensing that of God in each individual I meet, informs my life. I cannot look at another individual and see just an enemy. I cannot discount the sacredness of the person who crosses my path, even if they only touch my world with few words or just a glance.

This spiritual practice is not simple and it is not easy. I am called to engage in a radical process, a living that goes deep seeking roots, and not just the topsoil of our reality. It demands personal integrity, sacrifice, and action.

We live now in a global culture that is addicted to violence. Its influence is everywhere, in what we read, what we see, and what we hear. Violence is news every day. It has become especially vibrant since September 11, 2001. We as a people have only recently unwrapped ourselves from a national terror blanket with our vote. That is not to say that terrorism is not an important topic, just that it is no longer the sole controlling factor.

In our world that has been threatened and violated, there is a sense that nonviolence is a good place to hide out. It has its virtues but in a world under threat, is it not just a very weak place to stand today? I think not! Were Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., James Reeb, or Cesar Chavez, weak men? Were Viola Liuzzo, Rosa Parks, or Dorothy Day weak women? My answer to both questions is a resounding, “No!” Let us move closer to our own day in time — Rachel Corrie murdered in Palestinian 2003, Sister Dorothy Stang murdered in Brazil 2005, Marla Ruzicka murdered in Baghdad 2005, Tom Fox murdered in Baghdad 2006. These representatives of nonviolence in our own day were not weak, and they carried no guns.

I believe we are all called to follow what the Quaker Author Thomas Kelly called, “God’s faintest whisper.” Being true to my inner whisper I am working for a nonviolent society. We the people need to build community together. Building this community begins in our hearts and then in our neighborhoods. There is a vision in the nonviolence movement of what Martin Luther King Jr. called the “Beloved Community”. It can only happen if we make it an active reality, and I believe we can.