"The time has come," the Walrus said,The key to a new world is a complex idea. Complexity science is my bag. I can not isolate things. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. The essence of the change we seek rests around violence in many forms. The most obvious is imperialism but it has penetrated every nook and cranny of our civilization. Violence in political "debate', violence against women, animals, children, and many many other forms. Violence against the planet looms over us as a specter. The idea that the people who stand to loose so much from a just and sane world will give up what they have stolen without a fight seems remote. I hope I am wrong. I have always said that we will know when they feel threatened because the mask will come off and the bared teeth will show. It seems like they may be nearing that point. They more than anyone are aware that their house of cards has signs of beginning to fall. That scares them more than any protest, but the protesters are handy. Read on below and I'll try to give some hints as to how to do a very hard thing. That is to remain strong, resolved and yet to protect yourself and keep your cool.
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."
Wikipedia is a good place to start. The first thing they mention goes back to BCE 470–391 and so we are not dealing with something new, new as this manifestation is. Here is a snippet from the page:
Nonviolent resistance (or nonviolent action) is the practice of achieving socio-political goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance. Each of these terms ("nonviolent resistance" and "civil resistance") has its distinct merits and also slightly different connotations, which are briefly explored in the entry on civil resistance. The modern form of non-violent resistance as we know it today was popularised and proven to be effective by the Indian legend Mahatma Gandhi in his efforts to gain independence from the British.This is just to give a perspective. I can add little to the very convincing thoughts of these and other great people. What I can do is try to help you keep your eyes on the prize and to protect yourself. By the way, you may be thinking that you will never be involved in a situation that will use these ideas. You never know. My wife and I were at the end of a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans as innocent observers and were almost severely injured by a crowd fleeing a police riot.
The Salt March on March 12, 1930
Nonviolent resistance advocates include Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, Andrei Sakharov, Martin Luther King, Jr, Václav Havel, and Lech Wałęsa. In 2006 peace ethologist Judith Hand presented a strategy for abolishing war premised on using nonviolent resistance (A Future Without War: the Strategy of a Warfare Transition).
As far as ways to be non-violent and stand up for your beliefs the Albert Einstein Institute has 198 methods listed and I'm sure there are more.
The PBS Series: Eyes on the Prize has this to offer and much more:
"The workshops in nonviolence made the difference... the philosophy... the tactics, the techniques, how to... take the blows and still respond with... dignity."This is a source that will require some work:
—Rev. C. T. Vivian, Nashville activist
Now, before I give a limited set of things I remember from attending such workshops I have to explain something that should be obvious. We are not talking about electoral politics and the level of engagement required for that. This is much more serious. If you review the sources above you will quickly learn that the victories of the Civil Rights movement in the South and the anti-war and anti-draft movements that were modeled after them were won because people set aside time to train and to involve themselves in intense drill and workshops. The original non-violent activists were up against lynchers and other murderers often wearing police or sheriff's uniforms. In a way what I will say here may be seen as irresponsible, but for what it is worth I'll try to give a few tips.
The objective of any non-violent action is to demonstrate that such action is more effective than the use of force. Therefore it has to be disciplined and well thought out. As in my Marine Corps training, or in learning to drive, or in playing a musical instrument, one had to practice to make reactions unconscious for often surprises came up that required such responses. Most folk are looking for easy ways to accomplish what can't be had easily. This is where we have to become dedicated.
The use of force by those in power comes in levels. Franz Fannon in his book The Wretched of the Earth shows through the experiences of the Algerians as they threw off the French domination some clear truths about such struggles. The clearest point is that those in power use people just like us to keep us where the rulers want us. Those people have to be trained to subjugate others like them. I learned that in my military training. I was not a killer nor did I ever have to kill. Yet I was subjected to stories and propaganda that was supposed to overcome that. My training was to make me see killing as perfectly right and patriotic. All enforcers are subjected to similar brain washing. To the extent that it is effective they will see themselves as doing good by hurting you or at least intimidating you. They will interpret your non-violence as a lack of courage or resolve. They are also able to see weakness and potential easy victims to use as examples of what can happen if you persist.
Having that in mind, you need to become a part of those around you and see the group as an organism that protects its members. If the attackers can see weakness you can show them strength by working together. Certain actions and maneuvers are hard to describe here but I'll try. The principles behind them are those above.
I will use a demonstration in NYC when Martin Luther King spoke at the UN Plaza to show what can be done for most involved were not trained in these tactics but caught on quickly. The parade was a legal one with established times and routes. The police did not honor the arrangements because the crowd in Central Park was unbelievably huge! Someone must have given the order to make sure that most of us not get to the UN Plaza to show that big of a mostly white middle class audience for MLK.
Leadership arose among us and we took an unauthorized route. WE tied up the city and it was never our intention but their ploy backfired for now the publicity was rolling! So when we got to the UN Plaza on a street not designated as a parade route we were met by riot cops in full regalia and they were not happy. When they charged we reacted according to the prompts of those among us who knew what to do. I will now stop being totally historically accurate to help get across this diaries point.
People were instructed to bunch together leaving no space between them. They were instructed to sit or crouch with elbows in front of their face and hands on the back of their heads (try it...become an Armadillo). The police had no way to divide us and had to try to move us one by one. That would have taken days.
What power in passive action! Ok you are in front and two or three of them try to carry you to the police van. You have choices and I'm not sure any is best. You can go limp or stay like an Armadillo. Either way they have their hands full.
They tire of this quickly and it gives them little satisfaction. Once they have you aside what prevents then from hurting you? Actually nothing, but reciting badge numbers and/or names (if they have them on- not to is illegal) will give them something to think about. Nowadays we have cameras cell phones, etc. having you cell phone on and in contact with someone but not conspicuous might be an idea. Nothing prevents them from smashing or otherwise rendering such tools ineffective.
What about mace, tear gas, pepper spray etc.? Someone suggested the goggles from chem lab. Plastic wrap. Vaseline. These should be standard equipment and shared well before needed. There are other things but you get the idea. I'd like to be cute and wish you never will need this information. I'd be lying. We need to get out there and do it! Read the history of the Civil Rights movement. Some beginning links above. Get a feeling for what it cost. Get a feeling for where we would be without it. Then get out there and fight for your freedom. Do it with the greatest power we have. Non-violent resistance.