Thursday, February 24, 2011


There was a time in my life when I was an anti-nuclear weapons organizer and activist. I participated in many parades, shouted many slogans. I analyzed the language used by fellow activists like "we are going to blow the opposition away" and wondered why our language had to be destructive. Wasn't that going against what we preached? I felt angry when I'd call for volunteers and get responses like, "I like to show my activism by walking in the woods." "Yeah, asshole", I'd think, "Where will the woods be if you don't do something about them!!!" It dawned on me one day that for all my peace activism, I wasn't peaceful inside. It was then I began seriously to pursue my spiritual quest to find a more balanced and harmonious life.

I believe in standing up for rights, and by no means do I preach being a wallflower. But I wonder about using violence to curb violence philosophy which brings me to why I started to write this post. I've been reflecting on the day I stood up to a bully. One day, what seemed out of the blue, Missy, a somewhat awkward, tall, stocky girl followed me off the bus. She told me she was going to punch me and lifted her arm. She had at least 5 inches on me. I wasn't athletic, was 20 pounds overweight. Other then perceiving me as an easy target, I could not tell you why she picked on me that day. I don't know if I snubbed her or if there was truly anything I did; we rarely interacted to cause any friction. Whatever the reason she had hate & anger in her eyes.

When Missy told me she was going to punch me I looked at her, with hard eyes and said, "If you are going to punch me, then punch me." This shocked her and she pulled away. I watched her, still in my defiant stance, as she shirked off.

Who knew at 12 I was acting out passive resistance. I say passive because I didn't react by punching back. I took power out of her words because I told her to go ahead, if she wanted. But what she wanted was for me to show fear. I didn't. I showed that no matter what she did, it wouldn't affect me. So what was the point in her doing what she did? She couldn't get what she wanted, an opportunity to feel power over another.

When we react out of fear, doesn't that just tell the perpetrator that intimidation works? If we continue to build arms doesn't that mean that we feel we always have to defend? Some may call this a simplistic view. I call it an advanced one - one that looks ahead, like the Dreamer vision John Lennon sang about, that one day we'll realize that destructive behavior no matter what the circumstance doesn't solve the issue in the long run. We can take active steps to create a positive way and the old ways of resolving disputes will seem ludicrous.

But from the images and news I see over and over, this vision isn't today. The vigilante, eye for eye revenge mentality pounded into us by U.S. media from movies to reality shows sickens me. And I see many examples of this playing out around me.

I wish I knew what caused Missy to act that way - what was going on in her personal world that would make her want to lash out. I hope whereever she is today, she's not having one of those days.

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