In our efforts to reduce harm and create more abundant life for more people, let us use tactics that move away from reactivity and toward thoughtfulness. We need moments of slowness to spot the cracks in the armor and the opportunities for pivoting the moral weight of our activism.
In our work for freedom, we cannot confuse righteousness for winning. Privileging abstract virtues and ideas over the physical reality of our survival, such as gazing inward toward the minutiae of others’ perceptions of our nonviolent bona fides instead of getting people out of harm’s way by any means necessary, is a luxury. What good is piety if our people are dead?
We are constantly threading the needle between self-defense and provocation, loving-kindness and passivity. We are not responsible for the emotional and physical reactions of our adversaries, but neither can we escape the fact of retaliation. We must understand our relative power – to each other and to our adversaries – in order to find the right-sized tactics and roles for each of us. Remember how precious our bodies are.
The work of nonviolent resistance is uncomfortable, and often there is no perfect answer. We need movements that are generous toward a diversity of tactics and moral frameworks for activism, all while knowing that none of us is free until all of us are free.
Figuratively or literally, would you bring a gun to the protest? Why or why not?
Whichever side you fall on, can you think of a moral reasoning for the other side’s approach?
How ethically responsible are we for not provoking violent retaliation from our adversaries? What if your co-activists have varying histories of being subjected to systematic violence and are targeted differently because of race, gender, ability, documentation, etc.?
If our adversary is not the State itself, our adversaries tend to be able to call in protection and support from State-sanctioned arbiters of violence, such as the police. Is State-sanctioned control or force different from other kinds violence based on the control and submission of bodies? Are guns more acceptable in some hands than others?