This is a heady time punctuated by worldwide protests. Challenging. Exhausting. Pregnant with possibility.
We can’t see it clearly from here but we might be on the verge of a breakthrough. Remember how shockingly sudden Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union collapsed? These major shifts seemed to come out of the blue.
In this unsettled time, let’s try something new.
In Erica Chenoweth’s TEDX Boulder Talk, The success of nonviolent civil resistance, she claims that a mere 3.5% of the population protesting is sufficient to effect change. History shows that peaceful protest drives lasting change far more effectively than violence. Now that’s a welcome prospect!
Although our nation is tragically misled and deeply polarized, many of our fellow Americans are awake and actively engaged – marching, calling, donating time, money and exposing shocking bigotry, misogyny, corruption, and unending threats to our civil liberties and even the rule of law.
Even in the midst of this chaos, I feel optimistic and hopeful. The Law of Unintended Consequences sometimes leads to unpredictable, but just and satisfying results. Less than a week after the election, Jews and Muslims forged the Muslim Jewish Advisory Council and met on Wednesday with members of Congress and Trump administration officials.
No one could have predicted that the scourge of AIDS would ultimately be a gift to the LGBTQ community. Had they not mobilized against the deadly threat, people would still be dying and homosexuality would still be in the closet. Pockets of LGBTQ resistance remain but if Pope Francis can accept it, there is no going back.
Keeping up with the shifting political landscape takes my breath away.
In the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! the Japanese military general remarked after the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor: “I’m afraid that we have awakened a sleeping giant.” That scene came to mind as I marched in Chicago along with 250,000 women, men and children–young, old, black, white, and Muslim in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. The media reported that, worldwide, 2 million people protested in solidarity with the movement.
In this volatile atmosphere, engaged citizens, spanning the range of the political spectrum, are opening their wallets, using their vocal chords, and exercising their constitutional rights. With issues aplenty to choose from, being on the sidelines is an uncomfortable position.
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