Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When Justice Becomes Injustice, Resistance Becomes a Duty

Petra Kelly uttered those words in her first term in the German Bundestag, as she led the struggle to prevent nuclear weapons from being located on German soil.

A provocative statement for sure. Is it true? Do you feel that it is true? Why? Why not? What is our responsibility to act when confronted with injustice?

Could this be a central question for what we face in Syria? And if so what action would be called for? A military strike? Where? What would it gain? What seeds of reaction might it germinate?

Could it possibly be that we have so convinced ourselves that the only response to violence is violence? Is that why the Department of Defense is all about 'military strikes' as opposed to nonviolent passive resistance? If we were to have an equivalent Department of Peace that focused on nonviolent conflict revolution as much as on military strategy could we move away from war?

There are countries without militaries! Nonviolence has been shown to work in the 20th century. Could we make the 21st century the century of nonviolence? Do we think we can achieve this by military strikes? Certainly we can conjure up alternative approaches that don't sow the seed of future violence. One sure step would be the reduction of inequality.

Making and selling more armaments, especially those that kill even more remotely, making killing closer to a video game, will not bring the Syrians peace. This is not to say that some ACTION isn't called for. We should continue publicly all efforts to broker a meeting with all sides in Syria, without  violence, but calling for an end to violence. Too many have died. Anyone with any ties to the regime should be approached to see if they can help open up a negotiation with the parties with the sole goal of ending the violence..

This is a time we should have built an international peace brigade, trained for involvement in violent conflict situations. International Peacekeepers larger in number than soldiers with guns or bombs with depleted uranium. Let's not simply bury the idea of war, let's give birth to active resistance to violence with nonviolence. Are we brave enough to enlist our time and energy? Are we ready to be ridiculed as utopians?
Or will we saunter down the same old path?

Our government is getting ready to act. If nothing else, might we raise our voices to be heard that there must be a better way? As A.J. Muste noted many years ago, "There is no way to peace - Peace is the way."