Ateneo de Davao University

Ateneo de Davao

We need a non-violent movement to change our country

JAKARTA — I am currently out of the country to attend series of meetings for our Islamic finance learning experience in Indonesia for a week. I watched on the news and on social media of what is happening in Mindanao, specifically in Kidapawan City. In my opinion, the rally of the poor farmers became so politically divisive. My friends who are supporting their own presidential candidates for this May 2016 elections are also making the situation a lot more complicated.

I am not naive of how people can manipulate a situation. The manipulation can be done by different sectors, political parties, and political operators. They worsen the situation and makes everything a mere political propaganda. Thus, people lose the real issue and concern in addressing the problem.

The death of the poor farmers and the beating of the police officers in Kidapawan demonstrate another deep structural injustice in our country. It also shows how people manipulate any certain situation for their political advantage.

Few weeks ago, the Catholics in our country observed the Holy Week. But just few days after, it seemed that those who were involved in the rally, who are on the side of the government, leftist groups, and others forgot the message of their own faith. They forgot that their own religion promotes nonviolence. I am an advocate of the principle of active non-violence.

In studying this principle, I was able to come across the works and writings of Rev. John Dear. Fr. Dear is an internationally known author, lecturer and peace activist. His thirty books include “Living Peace,” “Jesus the Rebel,” “The Nonviolent Life,” “The God of Peace,” “Peace Behind Bars,” The Questions of Jesus,” “Lazarus Come Forth,” and “Disarming the Heart.” His two latest books are, “Thomas Merton Peacemaker,” and “Walking the Way: Following Jesus on the Path of Gospel Nonviolence.” In an article published by Huffington Post written by Fr. John Dear describes what non-violence is and why our world needs this today.

I quote a portion of the article to share in my column: “I’ve been teaching and speaking about nonviolence full time for thirty five years, traveled through warzones, been imprisoned for civil disobedience and written thirty books on the subject, yet I still find it appalling to hear national news anchors, such as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, show outrage to Baltimore protesters. “Aren’t you nonviolent?” Wolf Blitzer asked. He and all the other national news anchors need to ask that of our elected officials and military leaders—but they never do. People on the streets are expected to follow a code of nonviolence (and I believe they should)—-but government and military officials never have to. They can kill two million people in Iraq and hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan, yet they remain exempt from decent human nonviolence. No one is above the fray. No one is exempt from the code of nonviolence. It applies to every human being equally.”

Fr. John also mentioned that every one of us has to start practicing nonviolence, from the people on the streets, to the people who walk the halls government institutions, the Congress, and the military camps. We need new political leaders who espouse Dr. King’s (Martin Luther King) vision of nonviolence.

Furthermore, he said, “The choice is no longer violence or nonviolence. It’s nonviolence—-or non-existence.” That’s what Dr. King said the night before our government killed him. His words still ring true today, and we had better take him seriously, if we want a future.

He also mentioned his book, The Nonviolent Life, and said, “I propose that nonviolence requires three simultaneous attributes: first, practicing nonviolence toward ourselves (so that we really cultivate inner peace and become peaceful people); second, practicing meticulous interpersonal nonviolence toward everyone we know, every human being on the planet, and every creature and all of creation (so that we really model the nonviolence we seek); and third, joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence that is moving and growing across the world.”

Another portion of the article mentioned, “The great lesson of history is that violence has failed, catastrophically. As Gandhi explained, an eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind. “You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’” Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. “But I say to you, offer no violent resistance to one who does evil.” Jesus inspired Gandhi to use active nonviolence on a national level toward revolutionary change. They can inspire us, too.

He ended his message by saying, “The only way forward, the only hope for humanity, the only practical political solution left for the world is our global conversion to creative nonviolence and nonviolent conflict resolution.” I do hope that our government learned its lesson this time.

For all those who claim as patriots of this country, we need to remember what Gandhi said, “Changing the world begins with changing yourself; you have to become the change you want to see in the world.”