In this time of crisis, it is vital that we focus our attention on those who are most in need. This has long been a central guiding principle of active nonviolence.
Recently, I had the great joy of being on a call with a religious leader who is carrying on the grand tradition of nonviolent witness and action - Rev. William Barber. He is among the many leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign whose vision is needed now more than ever.
Rev. Barber calls on us to, “Take a collective oath that we won’t be silent anymore. When we get a handle on this virus, we won’t return to our apathy that has for far too long ignored the moral crisis of poverty and the racial disparities that mark American inequality.
Take time in this moment to let it change your insight forever, so that from now on we can see how connected we are, how frail we are, and how easily our lives can be disrupted. We cannot go back to business as usual.”
Rev. Barber’s prophetic words ring true. Now more than ever we must transform our society from a thing center view to a people and planet first approach. This is not new, but it is more urgent in this moment than ever before. We could and should have acted decades ago to build a more just and sustainable society. We still can take this moment to create the deep transformational change that is so clearly needed.
Our good friends at the Metta Center for Nonviolence recently hosted a fascinating conversation online and are now releasing a series of short videos capturing key parts of that discussion. In the video below, the great Professor Clayborne Carson, whose seminal work on MLK should be read by all who want to understand the power of nonviolent action, reflects on Gandhi and King’s shared commitment to those at the bottom of the social order. Please watch this short video and ponder what this calls on us to do in this time of the global COVID 19 crisis. What does this mean for each of us personally? What does it mean for active nonviolence in 2020 and beyond?