Wedging the mass into mass movement

A friend refuses to have anything to do with activists who will not commit to nonviolence. It’s not enough to denounce violence, they must swear it like an oath. The ARD has applied this literally. “I’ve seen it too many times” she says, violence erupts when there’s an insufficient commitment to nonviolence. Translation: too many are untrained to hold the line against violence. Meaning: people who taunt police officers, have knee-jerk self-defense responses, hurt the cause. But the same person complains that too few initiates are joining her [church].

Who can blame scholars for not wanting to discourse with the unschooled? I wouldn’t want to participate in a bridge tournament with an inexperienced partner. On the other hand, maybe I would, as I don’t play. Which I think is my point.

But I will question whether I have a handle on the bigger picture, or has she?

There is no growing your numbers in activism without inviting the participation of others less learned, less pure, and frankly less like you. Certainly in popular actions, you’d have to accept that not everyone will have the diligence or interest to adopt a spiritual ethos before expecting redress for a social ill. Union organizers don’t expect workers to sort out the ideologies themselves. It’s enough to impart on them the means and tools. It’s enough to have common goals.

In my opinion, you won’t widen your base of support if you make nonviolence training the prerequisite. A spontaneous movement of mass appeal will be bound by laws of human nature, including assertiveness –mistaken for aggression– and self-righteous indignation –anger. If you’re going to wait for our ever-degrading education system to supply minds fertile for a counter-culture re-adjustment… well, I won’t.


There will be no effective popular movement to initiate reform, until the masses are schooled to transcend violence.

Maybe either way, anger or transcendence, in hoping for mass-driven progress toward peace and justice, we’re not there yet.

1 thought on “Wedging the mass into mass movement

  1. One can only really have total contempt for those who equate the violence of the rapist or assassin with the slap back from the victim.

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