Make a Beloved Community
April 30, 2013
It seems violence is all around us, yet we continue with our lives wondering what we can do, being upset, throwing up our hands, and often looking around suspiciously, concerned for our safety. Some people buy guns. I am a true believer in nonviolence, a child of the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Gandhian philosophy. In a book I just read by Michael Nagler, Is There No Other Way: The Search for a Nonviolent Future, he writes that the term nonviolence is barely a century old. It is a misleading translation of the Sanskrit word ahimsa, the negation of himsa, “desire, intent to harm.” It is a “non-fear” or “non-anger”, a kindness and even love. Nagler’s book inspired me to examine the ways I react to others’ violence, to seek how I can remain in nonviolence and satyagraha or “soul force,” as Gandhi called the way he resisted oppression and violence in the world. Satyagraha literally means “clinging to Truth.” Nagler calls it a weapon of the strong because it takes tremendous strength to claim sovereignty over prejudice, hatred and violence. I want to encourage us all to search for the meaning in our lives that will allow us to flourish in these times, to fully live. In her book, A Life in the Spirit: Reflections on Faith and Politics, bell hooks wrote “our mission was to make a beloved community in the world.” In this time, with all we know, can we make a beloved community? I believe we can.