Tag Archives: nonviolence

10 Things Ghandi Might Have Tweeted

By Gordan Smith

With Ghandi’s commitment to simplicity of life, it is hard to imagine that he would have participated in the Twitter world, but if he had, I’m sure that his tweets would have been re-tweeted many times over. Should he have been inclined to share his thoughts in 140 character lines over this digital medium, they may have been something like this.
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Anger and Anarchy on Wall Street: The 1920 bombing

The aftermath of the September 16, 1920 Wall Street bombing. Photo: Library of Congress, New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph

By Gilbert King
Smithsonian Magazine

Descriptions of the event on Wall Street might seem eerily familiar. “It was a crush out of a blue sky—an unexpected, death-dealing bolt,” one witness observed, “which in a twinkling turned into a shambles the busiest corner of America’s financial center and sent scurrying to places of shelter hundreds of wounded, dumb-stricken, white-faced men and women—fleeing from an unknown danger.… Looking down Wall Street later I could see arising from the vicinity of the subtreasury building and the J.P. Morgan and Co. bank, a mushroom-shaped cloud of yellowish, green smoke which mounted to a height of more than 100 feet, the smoke being licked by darting tongues of flame.”

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Enemy Appreciation Day

From his new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound

By Robert C. Koehler

For all we owe to them, shouldn’t we maybe set aside an Enemy Appreciation Day? Hugs ’n’ kisses, darling, thanks for being you.

I say this less facetiously than you might think. Such a holiday has the potential to be more educational and transforming than any other on the calendar, if on this day we suspended, however briefly, even our most justified shudders of aversion and turned petulance and malice into celebration and wonder. I’m not suggesting that we love our enemies, either personal or ideological, merely that we alter our relationship to them for a few minutes out of the year.

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Equal and Opposite Lunacy


By Robert C. Koehler

As crashing economies and austerity measures slap ever more ferociously at the lives of the vulnerable and disenfranchised, the Western world, with all its hidden poverty and institutional racism, may continue to convulse.

The riots that broke out in London over the weekend and spread throughout Great Britain, triggered by the controversial police killing of a 29-year-old man, have sent shockwaves in all directions. Who knew things were so unstable, that Britain’s struggling neighborhoods were just one incident away from such destructive lunacy?

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The Sky Is Weeping

By Robert C. Koehler

When our lives are torn open, when the worst possible thing happens, what we have, finally, are our roses and our courage.

“I chose to stay in Oslo the entire week. It has felt like the most natural thing to do. I have never experienced any place any time in my life with such a complete absence of aggression. It feels like the city itself has gone into a peaceful place.”

Is this possible? My sense is that Norway’s reaction to its tragedy transcends much of the media coverage about it, obsessed as the media are with big-headline drama, who did it, who will pay. But something the headlines can’t capture seems to be going on in this small country, some determination among the people, above and beyond any political agenda, to stand — though wounded, though shattered by grief — for their highest values.

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Tim DeChristopher’s Court Speech: ‘This Is What Patriotism Looks Like’

Tim DeChristopher, whose act of civil disobedience stopped the illegal auction of oil and gas leases on thousands of acres of public land, was sentenced yesterday to two years in federal prison for fraudulently halting illegal government actions. This was his statement to the court.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak before the court. When I first met Mr. Manross, the sentencing officer who prepared the pre-sentence report, he explained that it was essentially his job to “get to know me.” He said he had to get to know who I really was and why I did what I did in order to decide what kind of sentence was appropriate. I was struck by the fact that he was the first person in this courthouse to call me by my first name, or even really look me in the eye. I appreciate this opportunity to speak openly to you for the first time. I’m not here asking for your mercy, but I am here asking that you know me.

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You Can’t Kill an Idea

Please see information about purchasing my new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound, following this week’s column.

By Robert C. Koehler

The crowds keep swelling, as though awareness, determination – humanity itself – were rising up from the earth. Einstein observed that we can never solve problems at the same level of thinking that created them. I hear the resonance of a new moral intelligence asserting itself, on the streets of the Middle East, in the United States and around the world.

“You can kill a man,” said Medgar Evers, “but you can’t kill an idea.”

But, oh, they try, they try. Hundreds were killed and wounded across the Middle East in recent weeks. “In the southern city of Aden,” AP reports, “Yemeni security forces opened fire on thousands of demonstrators after Friday’s Muslim prayers, wounding at least 19 people.”

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Discovering Fire

Please see info about purchasing my new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound, following this week’s column.

Victory March in CairoBy Robert C. Koehler

“Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.” — Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Egyptians lock arms, a dictator tumbles. Let’s think about this, shall we? How could such a thing have happened? I ask this knowing the hard part is just beginning. The hard part is always just beginning.

Egypt — brutal dictatorship now under military rule, key caretaker of Western interests in the Middle East — has yet to transform itself institutionally into the type of society its people have indicated over an extraordinary 18 days that they want and deserve; and much could happen in the coming weeks and months, from pressures both internal and international, to thwart, co-opt and derail the January 25 Revolution.

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Are we slacktivists? The Limits of Internet Organizing

By Mark Engler
Dissent Magazine

Some of the best organizers I know hardly have time to check their e-mail; they don’t spend any of their days on Twitter; and they certainly don’t count on Facebook to turn people out for events.

These notions may come as a surprise to those who have been bludgeoned with the idea that the Internet is the future of social change and is revolutionizing the way organizing is done. But they are true, and there are plenty of reasons why the great bulk of serious organizing still happens off-line.

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A Festival of Peace

By Robert C. Koehler

“I ran away from my foster mother, became homeless, lived on the street for three years. Because I was handicapped I couldn’t get into an apartment building to get out of the snow. Your skin feels like it’s on fire when you’re that cold. I’d stand in the doorway, where bright lights shine on the manikins, and psych myself into believing I could feel the heat coming off the light bulb.”

We get, in all, twelve minutes of Daisy. The above words are a condensation of one of those minutes. The other eleven are just as intense, just as shocking — but spiritually soaring, as this wheelchair-bound woman — she contracted polio after swimming in a polluted lake — talks matter-of-factly about a life that seems like it should be broken beyond repair. She talks about her abusive father, the beatings, the flowers on the bedspread (her only toys), her “bright light” spiritual vision in an iron lung. Her words made me cry, not because of the horror, but because she was so happy, so full of a transcendent gratitude for nothing less than life itself.

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Universal Environmental Rights: In Honor of the 2009 UN Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change

Guest Blogged by Diane Perlman

On December 10, 2009:

  • It will be the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human RIghts, spearheaded by Eleanor Roosevelt in the aftermath of World War II;
  • President Barack Obama will be receiving his Nobel Peace Prize;
  • It will be the fourth day of the UN 2009 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, with 240 NGO events and 2,000 other events scheduled during the two week conference; and
  • The streets in Copenhagen and around the world will be filled with people, in the biggest demonstration of global unity calling for a sound treaty and global actions to remedy the greatest crisis ever faced by humanity.

As the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change coincides with Human Rights Day, let’s consider whether our 2009 world calls for amending the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and whether it is appropriate to elevate our basic needs for survival to the level of universal human rights.
Here is a draft proposal to amend the UDHR in honor of Copenhagen. Suggestions, endorsements or strategies for its use are most welcome in comments.  Continue reading

We Shall Not Be Moved

restorative justice 468x291By Robert C. Koehler
Tribune Media Services

“A fight, a fight . . .”

Oh Lord. From what depths did this story come? This was the power of the peace circle, pulling something out of me beyond any known zone of emotional safety. 

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