The following is from David Hartsough’s book, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist to be published by PM Press in September 2014.
1. Practice nonviolence in all areas of your life—thoughts, conversations, family and work relationships, and with challenging people and situations. Read Gandhi and King to gain a deeper understanding of nonviolence, and how to integrate nonviolence into your life as you work for change. One valuable resource is: (http://www.godblessthewholeworld.org)
2. Explore nonviolent ways of relating and communicating where compassion and active listening guide your interactions with others. Alternatives to Violence Project (www.avpusa.org) and Nonviolent Communications trainings (www.cnvc.org) are excellent and fun ways to practice these invaluable skills.
3. Watch or listen to Democracy Now, Bill Moyers’ Journal on PBS, and public news stations which are independently operated, non-commercial, and listener-supported. They provide a more progressive political orientation, and counter-balance what is promoted by the mainstream media. (http://www.democracynow.org/), (http:// www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/index.html), (http://www.pbs.org/)
4. Participate in a Global Exchange “Reality Tour.” These socially responsible educational tours develop a deeper understanding of the poverty, injustice and violence facing so many around the world. Frequently, long lasting personal relationships are made as you empower local communities, and learn how to work for change in American polices, which are often the direct cause for these adverse conditions. (www.globalexchange.org).
5. Be the change you want to see in the world. People seeking a caring, compassionate, just, environmentally sustainable and peaceful world can begin by living their own lives by the values they would like to see in the world.
PERSONAL WITNESS—SPEAKING OUT
6. Write Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper, and to Members of Congress, about issues which concern you. By contacting local, State and Federal elected Officials and government agencies, you are “speaking truth to power”
7. Participate in a short-term international delegation to get to know people living in conflict areas, and to experience their reality. Meet locals who are working for peace and justice, and learn how you can become their ally. Witness for Peace, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Meta Peace Teams, and Interfaith Peace Builders, all offer these valuable opportunities. (http://witnessforpeace.org), (http://www.cpt.org), www.MPTpeaceteams.org,(www.interfaithpeacebuilders.org)
8. Volunteer to work on a peace team in a conflict area to help support local human rights defenders, protect civilian populations (an estimated 80% of the people killed in wars are now civilians) and support local peacekeepers working for nonviolent resolution of conflicts. Ask a local church, religious community, or civic organization to support you in volunteering for three months to a year doing this work.
9. Counter Recruitment – Educate young people who are considering the military (frequently to get financial assistance for a college education) about the reality of that choice, and the horrors of war. The War Resisters League and The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) both offer good educational resources for these efforts. (https://afsc.org/resource/counter-recruitment) and (www.warresisters.org//counterrecruitment)
Assist those who are considering the military with viable, peaceful alternatives and introduce them to Veterans who have witnessed war directly such as Vets for Peace (VFP.org). Where appropriate, help them to apply for Conscientiousness Objector status. The GI Rights Hotline offers good information regarding that process (http://girightshotline.org)
DISCUSSION AND STUDY GROUPS
10. Together with others who have read this book, share insights and stories which touched you, or empowered you to address the problems of war, injustice, racism and violence in our society. Which accounts motivated you to help create a more just, peaceful, nonviolent and environmentally sustainable world? What would you like to do differently as a result of reading this book?
11. Watch the DVD “A Force More Powerful,” with others in your church, community, school or university; it documents the history of six powerful nonviolent movements around the world. Discuss each featured episode which explores some of the 20th centuries’ major struggles in which nonviolent people-powered movements have overcome oppression, dictatorship and authoritarian rule. Downloadable study guides, and comprehensive lesson plans for high school students, are available on the website. The DVD is available in more than a dozen languages. (www.aforcemorepowerful.org)
12. Read articles in Waging Nonviolence: People Powered News and Analysis by authors like George Lakey, Ken Butigan, Kathy Kelly, John Dear, and Frida Berrigan. These articles are filled with stories of ordinary people facing conflicts, using nonviolent strategies and tactics, even under the most difficult of circumstances, Discuss your responses with others, and decide what you would like to do to create nonviolent change. (wagingnonviolence.org)
13. Create a study/discussion group to read or view DVDs and books in the Resources Section of this book. Discuss your feelings, responses, insights on how nonviolent struggle works, and what you might like to do together to put your “Beliefs Into Action”.
14. To honor Martin Luther King’s birthday on January 20th (or any other day), organize a showing of one of the excellent films on Dr. King such as King: From Montgomery to Memphis, or KING: Go beyond the dream to discover the man (by the History Channel). Afterward, talk about what relevance King and the Civil Rights Movement have for your lives, and for our nation today. A Study Guide for this film is available for download. (http://www.history.com/images/media/pdf/08-0420_King_Study_Guide.pdf )
15. In addition, large public libraries often have good collections of DVDs on MLK and on the Civil Rights Movement, like: Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965). Listen to some of the amazing talks on (Godblessthewholeworld.org) website and discuss them with friends. This free online educational resource features hundreds of videos, audio files, articles and courses on social justice, spiritual activism, counter oppression, environmentalism, plus many other topics on personal and global transformation.
16. Organize a study group using Pace e Bene’s workbook entitled, Engage: Exploring Nonviolent Living. This twelve-part study and action program offers participants a wide variety of principles, stories, exercises, and readings for learning, practicing, and experimenting with the power of creative nonviolence for personal and social change. (http://paceebene.org).
NONVIOLENT, LOW AND NO RISK ACTIONS
17. Identify a problem in your community, the nation or the world, and find others who share your concern. Join together and organize to address that problem, using Martin Luther King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence, and his steps in organizing nonviolent campaigns, (see below). Working together we can create what King called the “Beloved Community.”
18. Participate in peaceful demonstrations that focus on your area of concern (anti-war, national priorities, banking reform, immigration, education, healthcare, Social Security, etc.). They are a good way to expand your contacts and energize your spirit for the longer campaigns.
19. Work at the grass roots level. You don’t need to go to Washington to create change. Start where you are, as Martin Luther King did with the bus boycott in Montgomery (1955), and with the Voting Rights Campaign in Selma, Alabama (1965). “Think globally. Act locally.”
20. Whatever your spiritual or faith path, live by the values and beliefs you profess. Beliefs don’t have much meaning without action. If you are part of a faith-based community, work to help make your church or spiritual community a beacon of justice, peace and love in the world.
21. All the struggles – justice, peace, environmental sustainability, women’s rights, etc. are interconnected; you don’t need to do everything. Pick an issue you feel passionately about, and focus your efforts on that. Find ways to support others who are working on different issues, especially at critical times when a major effort is needed.
22. Participate in Nonviolence Trainings which create opportunities for participants to learn more about the history and power of nonviolence, share fears and feelings, build solidarity with one another, and form affinity groups. NV Trainings are often used as preparation for actions, and give people a chance to learn specifics about that action, its tone, and legal ramifications; to role play interactions with police, officials, and others in the action; and to practice applying nonviolence in challenging situations. (www.trainingforchange.org), (www.trainersalliance.org), (www.organizingforpower.org)
23. Speak “Truth to Power” with others. Develop a nonviolent campaign aimed at a specific injustice or issue– for example: gun violence, the environment, war and occupation of Afghanistan, use of drones, or redefining our national priorities. Pick an achievable goal, focus on that for some months or even longer. “A campaign is a focused mobilization of energy with a clear objective, over a time period that can realistically be sustained by those who identify with the cause.” George Lakey, History as a Weapon, Strategizing for a Living Revolution. Use King’s “Four Basic Steps in Any Nonviolent Campaign.” (Letter From the Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963) (see below)
One example of a nonviolent campaign is the National Priorities Project: Bringing the Federal Budget Home. They seek to, “End the wars and military bases around the world, and bring our tax dollars home – for schools, health care for all, parks, job training, care for the elderly, head start, etc. (Nationalprioritiesproject.org)
24. In the Spirit of Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, consider engaging in acts of nonviolent civil resistance to challenge unjust laws or policies which you consider immoral, or illegal under international law. These might include the use of Drones, the use of torture, or nuclear weapons development. It is highly recommended that you do this with others so you can support one another, and that you go through Nonviolence Training first. (see #22 above)
25. Consider refusing to pay some or all of your taxes that pay for war. War Tax Resistance is an important way to withdraw your cooperation from participation in U.S. wars. In order to sustain their war efforts, governments need young men and women willing to fight and kill, and they need the rest of us to pay our taxes to cover the cost of the soldiers, the bombs, the guns, the ammunition, the planes and the aircraft carriers that enable them to continue going to war.
Alexander Haig, President Nixon’s chief of staff, as he looked out the White House window and saw over two hundred thousand anti-war demonstrators marching by, said “Let them march all they want to as long as they pay their taxes.” Contact the
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) for assistance and additional information.. (www.nwtrcc.org/contacts_counselors.php)
26. Imagine what might happen of our country put even 10 percent of the money we presently spend on wars and military expenditures into building a world where every person has enough to eat, shelter, an opportunity for education and access to medical care. We might become the most loved country in the world, — and the most secure. See the website for the Global Marshall Plan. (www.spiritualprogressives.org/GMP)
If you would like to work actively to support nonviolent movements around the world, contact PEACEWORKERS@igc.org
Whatever you do, thank you. TOGETHER WE SHALL OVERCOME!
TEN LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY LIFE OF ACTIVISM
1. Vision. It is important that we take the time to envision the community, nation, and
world we would like to live in, and create for our children and grandchildren. This long- term view, or vision statement, will be a continual source of inspiration. Then we can explore practical ways we can work with others who share our vision to create that kind of world. I personally envision, “A world without war – where there is justice for all, love for one another, peaceful resolution of conflicts, and environmental sustainability.”
2. The oneness of all life. We are one human family. We need to understand that deep in our souls, and act on that conviction. I believe that through compassion, love, forgiveness, recognition of our oneness as a global community, and our willingness to struggle for that kind of world, we WILL realize world-wide justice and peace.
3. Nonviolence, a powerful force. As Gandhi said, Nonviolence is the most powerful force in the world, and it is “an idea whose time has come”. People all over the world are organizing nonviolent movements to bring about change. In Why Civil Resistance Works, Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan have documented that over the past 110 years nonviolent movements have been twice as likely to succeed as violent movements, and much more likely to help create democratic societies, without reverting to dictatorships and/or civil war.
4. Nurture your spirit. Through nature, music, friends, meditation, reading, and other practices of personal and spiritual development, I have learned the importance of nurturing our spirits and pacing ourselves for the long haul. When we confront violence and injustice it is our spiritual practices that help us discover our inner resources, and enable us to move forward with the courage of our deepest convictions. “Only from the heart can you touch the sky.” (Rumi)
5. Small, committed groups can create change. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” In times of doubt and discouragement about the current situation, those words, and my own life experiences, have re-inspired me with the certainty that we can make a difference!
Even a few committed students can make substantial change, as we did during our lunch counter sit-ins (Arlington, VA, 1960). We had been inspired by four African American freshmen who sat down at Woolworth’s “White’s Only” lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina (February, 1960). Their action sparked many sit-ins like ours, and led to the desegregation of lunch counters throughout the South.
“Ordinary people,” can make change. The most successful campaigns I have participated in were with friends who shared concerns, and organized together to make changes in the larger society. Our schools, churches, and community organizations are excellent places to develop such support groups. Although one person can make a difference, it can be very challenging working alone. However, together, we can overcome!
6. Sustained struggle. Every major movement that I have studied, or been a part of, required sustained struggle over months, and even years, to bring about fundamental changes in our society. Examples include the Abolitionist Movement, the movement for women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-Vietnam war movement, the United Farm Workers movement, the Sanctuary Movement, and many others. All had the common thread of sustained resistance, energy, and vision.
7. Good Strategy. Yes, holding a sign and putting a bumper sticker on our car is important, but if we want to bring about fundamental change in our society we need to create long- range goals that build toward our vision for the future, and then develop good strategy and sustained campaigns to achieve those goals. (See George Lakey’s, Toward a Living Revolution: A five-stage framework for creating radical social change.
8. Overcome our fear. Do everything you can to avoid being ruled by fear. Governments and other systems try to instill fear in us to control and immobilize us. Claiming that Iraq had concealed weapons of mass destruction scared people and gave the Bush Administration justification to invade Iraq, even though no such weapons were found.
We must not fall into the traps of disinformation set by the authorities. Fear is a major impediment to speaking truth to power; to acting to stop wars and injustice; and to whistle blowing. The more we overcome it, the more powerful and united we become. A supportive community is very important in overcoming our fears.
9. Truth. As Gandhi said, “Let your lives be ‘Experiments with Truth’”. We must experiment with Active Nonviolence, and keep hope alive. I share Gandhi’s conviction that, “Things undreamt of are daily being seen; the impossible is ever becoming possible. We are constantly being astonished these days at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence. But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of nonviolence.”
10.Telling our stories. Sharing our stories and experiments with truth is critically important. We can empower one another with our stories. There are many inspiring accounts of active nonviolent movements, such as those portrayed in A Force More Powerful (Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, 2000).
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “When people decide they want to be free….there is nothing that can stop them.” I invite you to share your stories of experiments with active nonviolence on the website for this book ( …-.org), and help challenge others to join in making a difference