“Nonviolence should mean a complete freedom from ill-will, anger and hate and an overflowing love for all …. The nonviolence I teach is active nonviolence of the strongest. But the weakest can partake in it without becoming weaker.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi
Days 64 and 65 – CELEBRATION (April 3 and 4)
Today, rejoice in the work that you have done. Celebrate the journey that you have made with countless others who believe that every individual can move the world in the direction of peace with their nonviolent choice and action.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead.
I don’t really feel like celebrating today. Celebration just isn’t where I’m at. For one thing it’s Good Friday and the day tends to fill me with a huge mix of emotions. And I have a quandary: do I go to church or to my meeting tonight? I want both. I need both.
I didn’t sleep well last night. My kids are opening their Easter eggs right now. We’re not likely to have another chance this weekend. They’ll be with their dad and then we have church stuff and a visit with grandpa.
“Complete freedom from ill-will, anger and hate” sounds like a lovely idea. I wish I knew how to get there and stay there. Sometimes I manage that “overflowing love for all” but not nearly as often as I wish.
What have I learned from this journey? I told a friend last month that “those challenges are a great exercise in humility. But somehow I can’t manage to be open-minded about violence ever being OK.” That was the day the assignment was to be open-minded about people with other ideas and I stepped into a battle of a Facebook post argument about our local Walmart not allowing guns. Yes, humbling. I’ve learned that no matter how pure my intentions my actions don’t always line up. I’ve learned that if I cannot practice radical non-violence in my own heart and with those closest to me I am only a hypocrite. I’ve learned it is much easier to have empathy and compassion for the distant poor in possessions than the nearby poor in spirit. I’ve learned that so long as I try to go on with my own empty tank and unmet needs that is all I have to give away. I’ve learned just how weak I am. I’ve learned just how violent I am and changed my very definition of violence. Violence is anything that harms any of God’s creatures in any way. There are infinitely many ways to threaten violence, to act violence, to spread violence. And I am not nearly as peaceful as I want to be. Yes, humbling. Very, very much so. I’ve learned that even attempting to walk a path of non-violence creates a huge separation between me and other people, it has cost me readers and friends both. I think it is Rilke who wrote that “in the deepest and most important things we are unspeakably alone.”
I am relieved to be done with this challenge. While it has forced me to write and think everyday and been most instructive it has also been exhausting. I can’t do anything half way. God didn’t put me together that way. I give my all and everything to whatever I attempt. But sometimes the cost of putting my whole self in is incredibly high. I don’t know if I will try this again next year. And I can only recommend it to the passionate. And yes, being truly passionate for anything requires being willing to suffer for it. Today is Good Friday, after all. And what would Jesus do?
I do, still, truly believe that we can change the world. That we get to participate in bringing God’s Kingdom to earth.