How to make a peaceful demonstration violent, 1940

Picket lines are too often associated with violence, and it is true that as in Boston, an opposing party may suddenly spring in among you, wrest the signs from your hands, and by the use of force, infect others to use force. The very effort to hold on to signs, to resist being choked to death when the sign hangs around your neck, gives the appearance of participation in violence, and the police enter in then and contribute their share. From a peaceful, orderly demonstration I have seen a picket line become in one second a rioting mob. There is always the feel of it in the air, the threat of it. There is always the passer-by who contributes his share, “Why don’t you get in their and rough ’em up!” to the crowd gathered on the other side of the streets watching for trouble. 

And of course we were all accused of being communists and socialists.

1940

Our Source of Conscience

Thich Nhat Hanh:
…we have the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast. But in the name of freedom, people have done a lot of damage. I think we have to build a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast in order to counterbalance. Because liberty without responsibility is not true liberty. We are not free to destroy.
-PBS interview 2003

During this time of COVID, some Americans are refusing to wear masks because it infringes on our freedom. One such person said: “We’re Americans, we can do whatever we want.”
Dorothy Day’s life makes clear how differently we live when we rely on our spiritual tradition as the source of our actions. Clinging to a half-baked definition of “freedom” is bad. However, simple “decency” may not be quite enough. And here is where Day makes us uncomfortable.

Day made her spiritual home in the Roman Catholic Church. She did not blind herself to its many faults. However, here she found she could dig down deep into a level of commitment to God-in-each-other. And so she stayed. Why did she not remain devoted to Communism? Many of the same ideas and visions of justice remained with her always. What was missing?
We have ideas of justice, of freedom and responsibility, of the family of humanity. Recognizing God-in-each other is more than an idea, it is a gut-wrenching challenge to everything we hold dear.

The Catholic Church is not the sole, or even perhaps best, spiritual home for most Americans. The dig-down-deep spiritual traditions of 2020 cannot be enumerated. The specific source of gut-based, love-based, willing-to-sacrifice conscience does not matter. Catholics called humanity “The Mystical Body of Christ.” By any other name, it means the same.
Provided we dig down deep.

Anchor the Eternity of Love

John Lewis
PHOTO COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES

Anchor the eternity of love in your own soul and embed this planet with goodness.
Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates.
Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge.
Release all bitterness.
Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won.
Choose confrontation wisely,
but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice.
And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love,
if you shine like a beacon for all to see,
then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation,
a world community,
and a Beloved Community that is finally at peace with itself. 

~ John Lewis (February 21, 1940–July 17, 2020) 

When I Groan Within Myself

“Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife which may at any moment become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself, “What else is the world interested in?” What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships. God is Love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship with each other of love. We want with all our hearts to love, to be loved. And not just in the family but to look upon all as our mothers, sisters, brothers, children. It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly, that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too because it is a foretaste of heaven.”

Tears of Resistance

“Like every human being who hungers and thirsts for justice and peace, Dorothy Day had periods of complete exhaustion, sorrow, and pain. I was told that she would then withdraw and cry — for hours and days. She would sit there, talk to no one, eat nothing, and just cry. She did not withdraw from her struggle-filled, active life for the poorest of the poor. She never ceased to look upon war, and preparation for war, as a crime against the poor. But at certain times she wept, long and bitterly.

“When I discovered this, I understood better what pacifism is, what God means in the midst of defeat, how the spirit comforts us and leads us into truth. I understood that comfort is not had by giving up truth, that one does not happen at the expense of the other. That Dorothy Day cried for days on end means for me that the Spirit’s consolation bears, at the same time, its own inconsolability. With Dorothy Day, we can learn to pray for the gift of tears.”

from Against the Wind: Memoir of a Radical Christian by Dorothee Soelle

People who fight for justice and peace are on the right side of history, correct? So why should we experience exhaustion, sorrow and pain? Frustration, hopelessness?

Because the news cycle of history is decades long.

The fight against injustice spans centuries.

History is not, I believe, an endless cycle, defeats and victories repeating themselves over and over. Think of a long, slow wire coil making its way down from the attic to Eden. Landing on a step, hesitating, collecting itself, allowing itself to be led to the next step down toward its goal.

Imagine we are working half way down the stairs, we can barely see the steps above, only the long way down. Imagine if we were to stop pushing that coil onward, but we stopped, discouraged because CNN did not report the march, the action, the phone calls, the arrests.

Resistance has no news cycle.

Resistance does not feed instant gratification, quite the opposite.

The desire to stop the unnecessary hunger, the spending on wars, the killing of innocents on the street….. it is so intense.

…”With Dorothy Day, we can learn to pray for the gift of tears” and, with her, keep on.

Medea Benjamin Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

“If we want to reap the harvest of peace and justice in the future, we will have to sow the seeds of nonviolence, here and now, in the present.”

-Mairead McGuire

Medea Benjamin Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

 

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Click on link above to read Mairead McGuire (Nobel Peace Prize recipient 1976) sum up Benjamin’s work and support her for award.

Dorothy Day was rejected as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize because she was “too radical.” The work for social justice that Benjamin continues to do makes her a spiritual granddaughter of Dorothy. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has a chance to correct skipping her over by awarding the prize to Benjamin.

 

 

 

 

Prayer for Justice

Prayer: 

God of justice and mercy, we ask your blessing upon those trapped by the world’s sin

For those who live in the terror of war …

Place peace in the hearts of those carrying out violence

For those who live shackled and trafficked …

Grow mercy in the hearts of those who hold them captive

For those who bear the weight of poverty …

Create generosity in the hearts of those who can help bear the weight

For those whose life and livelihood are affected by our changing climate …

Place prudence in the hearts of those in positions of power

For those who continue to be pushed to the margins of society – the elderly, immigrants, addicted …

Grow compassion in the hearts of those who might welcome them into its center

And for all of us, grant the strength to continue working for justice in this world and the faith to believe in the justice of the world yet to come.

Amen.

Chasusa.org Feb 2016

Walking Toward God

What is the connection between walking and meditation, walking and prayer? Meditation and prayer require our mind, souls, and bodies to work together in order to bear fruit. Walking requires that our eyes and ears be open.

In The Long Loneliness, Dorothy describes her time living on Statin Island. She says, “I found myself praying, praying with thanksgiving, praying with open eyes while I watched the workers on the beach and the sunset, and listened to the sound of the waves and the scream of snowy gulls.”

“We can train ourselves to walk with reverence. Wherever we walk, whether it’s the railway station or the supermarket, we are walking on the earth and so we are in a holy sanctuary. If we remember to walk like that, we can be nourished and find solidity with each step.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, “Shambhala Sun”, August 6, 2012

 

Merry Christmas from Dorothy Day, 1936

Catholic Worker joins in appeal for democracy and peace, therefore asks you to join protest against all dictatorships, fascist and Bolshevist, against all suppression of civil liberties, fascist and Bolshevist, including freedom of religious propaganda, education, and organization, against all war, whether imperialist, civil, or class.

Merry Christmas.