Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Doughnuts and Nonviolence

It's Easter morning, loaded with doughnuts from the night before (an annual tradition going back more than 20 years). We make these doughnuts from scratch deep frying them, rolling in sugar, then eating while they are still warm. Friends and family start rolling in around 7:00pm with the first doughnut ready to eat by 8:05pm. Of course there are other nibblies and beverages to accompany this annual calorie loader and egg decorating that follows.

But we're recovering, with fresh coffee, and another doughnut or two, as we return to Gandhi's Autobiography. He's back in India at this point, traveling the continent as he pledged to a friend before deciding whether to become involved in the Indian independence movement. Meanwhile he's struggling to align his inner aspirations with his performance on a daily basis. He shares his struggles with the dualities he faces - riding third class on trains, while disgusted with lack of sanitation; maintaining his fruit, nut and vegetable diet, etc.

I get up to take some of the doughnut pile over to my brother-in-law's and am immediately engaged with the radio. The NPR show "On Being" is on and the host, Krista Tippett, is in the midst of a long interview with Congressman and civil rights legend, John Lewis. I only catch this show if I happen to be driving somewhere and it pops on. But I am hooked, by the grace and strength in Lewis' voice as he recounts his life's journey and commitment to nonviolence.

Next day I receive this link to a TED talk from a local lawyer I recently met who does appellate work for the poor in Flint.. The TEDx speaker he's excited about is also a lawyer. Bryan Stevenson gives an amazing talk about injustice covering similar territory that my local lawyer's work takes him.

Fast forward to this morning when I finish the final chapters of Kofi Annan's Interventions:A Life in War and Peace. I'm especially caught up by his recitation of a discussion he hosted over lunch following Colin Powell's presentation of supposed evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to the UN General Assembly. Attended by representatives to the Security Council , including Powell, Annan records French representative Dominique de Villepin' reaction to Powell's speech  "[deVillepin] launched into an extensive monologue about the alternatives to conflict and the fact that Iraq was but one of many proliferating countries, and noted that "we should find a different way than military action - we do not believe that military action can be so virtuous as to create democracy in the Middle East." He continued by stating that the UN had to be central to any next step, as "no country could win the war and win the peace as well. I do not believe we can go to war based upon suspicions and evasions. I am asked how long a delay should be acceptable in terms of the inspections. I ask how long will it be to regain the peace? I ask, how will this affect terrorism, how will this affect other proliferators? We are facing other issues: North Korea, Iran, Middle East."

But of course the US decided it had the right to subvert the UN. It resembles the same kind of talk I hear from the NRA folks now. That the suspicion of the threat of violence can only be met with more violence. Which leads me to an article linked from a blog shared with be by an old friend this week. The beautiful blog on building resilience refers to an article on violence in the media by the film critic from the San Francisco Chronicle. And I'll leave it there.