The pictures and stories about the protests in Egypt stir my revolutionary soul. I have gone through so many experiences in my own life that have drawn me to non-violent protest against war, injustice and oppression that my spirit resonates with the people in Tahrir Square. After having experienced violence and seen violence used to counter violence, I am again a firm believer in non-violence as a powerful force against oppression. Gandhi says, “I have found that life persists in the midst of destruction and, therefore, there must be a higher law than that of destruction. Only under that law would a well-ordered society be intelligible and life worth living. And if that is the law of life, we have to work it out in daily life. Wherever you are confronted with an opponent, conquer him with love.”
There were scenarios in the Washington Post Sunday describing various ways the uprising there could go – like Tiananmen, Poland’s“Solidarity,” Indonesia or Iran’s Islamic Republic. Or something different, something particularly suited to the conditions and history of Egypt. This is the moment of opportunity, opening, change, when many options are possible. I felt that same possibility during the intense month after 9/11. A peaceful, non-violent solution was possible then. It was an option. But Bush and our vengeful government chose instead to perpetrate an un-winable war against a country ravaged by war, oppression and destruction for many years. Less than two years later, the US attacked Iraq.
I’ve worn my peace sign on my coat since the first bomb in March, 2003, hoping for an end to the wars that have cost so many lives. It may be a small act of one small person, but I am part of a growing and powerful non-violent movement. War doesn’t work. Oppression doesn’t work. Eventually people will resist both. People want peace, enough security and safety in which to feed, clothe and house themselves and their families, freedom to vote, to celebrate life, practice their faith, work and create. All people need peace. If we want peace in our world, we must build peace in our country. If we want peace in our country, we must build peace in our communities. If we want peace in our communities, then we must build peace in our homes. If we want peace in our homes, we must build peace in our own hearts, minds and bodies. (my version of a Confucian saying).
How do you feel about the uprising of the Egyptian people? About how you are making peace today?