This critical teachable moment about non-violence could pass if we don’t grasp it and engage with it now.
Thousands are pouring into our streets to protest a whole host of injustices … and to pursue the greater good. Many are competing to have their voices and feelings finally acknowledged. While the majority march in peaceful protest, some allow their outrage to boil over into looting and violence. Sadly, these acts just escalate the anger and fear in others, who then shut down to the very voices that desperately need to to be heard, and allies become frustrated and withdrawn. Violent behavior undermines the cause and even perpetuates awful stereotypes. Violence incites violence, and while we can choose to understand the outrage, we can never, never condone violence.
If we recoil in fear from this moment, we might be missing the biggest opportunity of our lifetime to change our world for the better. We must confront and counter this brutality to empower the next generation with hope. Now is the time to educate our children and re-educate ourselves with truths taught by our Master Teachers of Peace for centuries — Power is Not in Violence! Real Power is always held by those who take the high ground and act in peace. Non-violent action and resistance strip the violent aggressor of any righteousness they believe they hold. MLK told us this, Jesus told us this, Gandhi told us this; as did John Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, and so many more of our greatest thinkers and spiritual leaders.
If young and old rush into the streets without the intention of walking in peace in order to create peace, we can expect chaos. The best way to counter violence is to educate all of our youth (and each other) about the power of non-violence and peaceful protest. We are obligated to help our children understand these principles as they take up the mantle of social justice to enact change. Every one of us must understand our mission when we take to the streets. We are there to leave Footprints for Fairness. If we want to create justice and peace, we must Walk in Peace!
“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.