If we believe or agree that physical violence or any form of violence is an effective response to fight against oppression, racial discrimination, segregation or other type of conflicts that we might face within our communities or around the world; there’s no reason to proudly identify ourselves as Human being. In order to create a life-giving world or community while wrestling with oppression, racial discrimination, segregation, etcetera…. we need to start considering a nonviolent approach to conflicts.
“Nation will not take up swords against nation, nor will they train war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4
God calls us to seek nonviolent solutions to conflicts for a long-term peace in the world that he beautifully made.
Growing up in a place of political instability, violence was considered as not only the right way but the excellent approach for resolving conflicts or accomplishing wished ends. My community believes in “an eye for an eye ” therefore; we were dealing with conflicts by harming or demolishing relationships and refusing the needs of other human beings, which derived more pain and division within the community. Several friends of mine lost their loved ones in one way or another, the majority of them had parents that were locked up in prison for destroying properties, and others’ parents were killed during riots. These additional problems that my friends were unfortunately facing were due to the method that the community used to resist injustices. My beloved community believed violence was a wonderful method to resolve conflicts, but after a few years the community started to suspect that violence had only created supplemental struggles and promoted barriers to peace within the community. This is to say that my community definitely needed a powerful “weapon” that would be accessible to everyone to fight injustice. A tool used not to punish, but to change and eliminate barriers to peace.
It’s has been over three years since I moved out of my community. I was discombobulated and frustrated of seeing injustices or people being humiliated. I felt like as a human being God was calling me for something greater than hate or supporting violence of any type. The great Albert John Luthuli, who was persecuted by his own government in South Africa and was a remarkable human rights activist, worked tirelessly against apartheid in South Africa and was also Africa’s first Peace Prize Laureate in 1961. He summed up pretty well what I felt and how I feel whenever there’s violence both in my community and around the globe, “I sin if I submit to the indignities that are hurled at me. I am a guardian of the Divine and it’s my Duty to defend it.”
Moving forward, I started doing research on ways that would help me and my community to handle conflicts not destructively, but constructively. One day along the road of finding a better and powerful way to fight injustice I came across the Micah Corps, which is an eight week summer internship program designed to empower young adults to link their faith with social justice issues and also help them explore different prayers methods as a way to grow deeper with their faith in Christ. This fantastic internship program is sponsored by The Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. Earlier in the internship, my teammate Amy Kenyon and I had the privilege to travel to Tecumseh, Kansas and met with Sarah Marsh who was our host and trainer on Peace and nonviolence. Rev. Sarah Marsh was a pastor at Tecumseh UMC, and also an associate community organizer through Topeka Justice Unity and Ministry Project (JUMP), an organization which stands for Justice by taking actions that honor the worth and dignity of every human being. Rev. Sarah Marsh is currently going to commit one-year to work in Lawrence, Kansas as a community organizer for Justice Matter, an organization that is similar to JUMP. She’s such an amazing woman with a heart that is profoundly concerned about social justice issues and she’s an inspiration to me. The way she links her Christian values with social justice is so fascinating. It’s with her help that I finally discovered and learned how to manipulate the famous “Weapon” which is “Non-Violence”. Everyone in my community along with most people around the earth knows about nonviolence, but we sometimes misunderstand or minimize the power of nonviolence.
Nonviolence is actually the only weapon that is available to all of us and it doesn’t require any money to purchase it, yet many still share the same allusion as my community that nonviolence is passive or lack of actions. More often though, nonviolence sadly appeared as voiceless to some people, but the world itself has proved us many times that without this breathtaking weapon we will never be able to experience the goodness of being in a world of Shalom that God tended us to live in. Having this weapon of nonviolence is the world’s most valuable thing that a human being can truly ever possess. Selma, Alabama for example is a living testimony of the powerful weapon of nonviolence. There Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Viola Liuzzo, Reeb James and The Southern Christian Leadership Conference ( SCLC) along with many others who believed that the only reasonable or significant decision that a human being can make by fighting injustice is to consider a nonviolence approach. Together they fought the Voting Rights Acts in Selma, Alabama in early 1965. They did not want to punish the Selma government for all the abominable, deplorable, and horrible things they had done to the people of color who were denied their rights to vote. Instead they stood up and protested peacefully to change the system.
We as human beings are called to love and care for one another despite the fact of our religious differences or skin color or gender may differ. We belong to one another. That’s why it’s important to consider nonviolence in our community, family and around the world. Every human being has value as part of God’s creation meaning each one of us has a particular contribution in the Kingdom of God. By using this weapon of nonviolence at all times, together we help break the cycle of violence and encounter violence with love.
By Elysee Fachet Mahangama
Micah Corps’ intern
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