In this Spotlight on Nonviolence, I had the great privilege of talking with David Hartsough, a Quaker, lifelong peace activist and author of the memoir Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist. In Part 1, David and I discuss his experience participating in civil rights sit-ins in Maryland and Virginia as a college student at Howard University, the difficulty of staying committed to nonviolence in the face of violence and intimidation, and how his Quaker faith has inspired and sustained him in his nonviolent activism. In Part 2, David and I discuss his experience traveling to Iran to engage in citizen diplomacy, his critique of economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool, and his vision of the end of US empire. Though it's hard to tell height over Zoom, David struck me as a gentle giant, humble and kind, soft-spoken but firm in his convictions, with a smile that I'm sure has lit up many rooms. Bathed in the soft white glow of his room, he seemed almost saintly. Though David is currently battling cancer, he found the time to grace me with his presence and it was an absolute pleasure to engage in a wide-ranging conversation with this extraordinary leader.
I found David's story of how he and some fellow college students successfully challenged desegregation deeply moving, a great reminder of the power of a group of young people to change the world. Even more impressive is how David has remained committed to nonviolence, putting his body in harm's way multiple times. I am in awe of his immense courage. As someone who studied US foreign policy as a political science student, I enjoyed learning about David's decades-long anti-war activism. Unlike pundits in DC who cheer on the war machine, David has traveled to so-called "enemy" countries and seen the devastating impact of US policy on civilians. I admire David's complete rejection of an "us vs. them" mentality, his embrace of the entire human family. As a young person in my early 20's, I'm still figuring out what exactly I want to do with my time on Earth- but I know for a fact that I want to live a life as beautiful, meaningful, and impactful as David Hartsough's. David told me that we can all influence other people through our example. As we fight against the same forces David did- the three evils of racism, war and poverty-we would do well to follow his shining path. I found our conversation deeply inspiring and insightful and I hope you will too.
Learn more about World Beyond War here- https://worldbeyondwar.org/
Learn more about Nonviolent Peaceforce here- https://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org/
Learn more about the Poor People's Campaign here- https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/
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