Part Time Courage

For the past several weeks, I’ve been writing a post about the uprisings in the Middle East. Or more accurately, I started writing a post about the Middle East several weeks ago and have been so stuck that I haven’t posted much of anything to this blog. My original motivation was to compare the outcomes of the largely nonviolent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and the armed revolution in Libya.

Today, I tried again to force myself to finish the post, and couldn’t do it. Why do I have such an aversion to write about this topic? It occurs to me that my dread of the vitriolic attacks that would come my way outweighs my desire to add to the public discourse. Matin Luther King, Jr. famously said that nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. There are times in my life when I’ve had the courage to publicly agitate for peace and nonviolence, and there are times, like now, when the thought of absorbing the inevitable anger that would be directed at me causes me to back down.

When I think about going out on a limb and advocating for nonviolence, memories surface that rekindle disturbing feelings. Of course, I was used to being spat at and being called a supporter of terrorists before the U.S. public decided that the Iraq war wasn’t such a good idea. But even the death threat I received from someone who worked at the local newspaper when I sent in an announcement of a peace rally doesn’t compare to the emotional impact of being repeatedly yelled at through email. That’s why I haven’t been able to complete my post on the Middle East – the thought of angry comments reminds me of the emails I used to get when I made and sold peace flags on line. It was at the start of the invasion of Iraq and I noticed a lack of good peace flags and decided to make some myself and distribute them to activists on line. After the first few hate messages, I would shutter to open my email; each angry message felt like a blow to my heart. I would very carefully craft conciliatory messages to send back, hoping to soften opinions, but the cumulative effect was to stop me from selling flags. And now, echoes of those emails have stopped me from writing and essay about nonviolent resistance to authoritarian regimes.

So that’s why I haven’t beep posting much these days. But having thought all of this, I already feel a sense of relief and hopefully I’ll be posting more ramblings more often. I may not have the full-time courage required for a life of nonviolence, but I know that sooner or later I’ll be back out in the streets being screamed at and accused of supporting whoever the next official enemy is.

The Sun’s Not Setting, The Horizon is Moving Up:

dasy

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8 Responses to Part Time Courage

  1. l0oree says:

    I just finished one of my thought process writings about the same subject of peace. Was not to this realm of the wars but in a way yes. I said at the end peace love and happiness to all. But I have to be careful with this statement due to some people consider their peace war. For example my mom’s crap she dishes out for me she considers peace and happiness in her own sick mind. So I have to be careful and maybe say that I wish for the good peace and happiness from true love genuine and not wanting harm to come to anybody. LOVe.

  2. l0oree says:

    btw I have a picture of MLK saved to my computer in my pictures. I just put it as my desktop background on my laptop lol :) “Wonders why it is not called laptop background?”

  3. Espousing peace can make people angry. I greatly respect your consistent, principled stands, even when I disagree. And as I look back over the last few wars when I thought war was a reasonable and courageous answer, I have since come to realize that, no, you were right, peace is the answer. Write what you think is right.

  4. Bix says:

    I don’t know what it is about the internet, but it seems to have provided a forum for people’s anger (among other more positive emotions). Whatever one’s opinion, non-violence or violence, left or right, up or down, there is someone who will disagree, be angry, and, thanks to technology, communicate that anger.

    Anyway … thanks for sharing your thoughts. Keep it up!

  5. Samir Hafza says:

    In this blog I am glad to see the you using the word “uprising” instead of “spring.” I never liked the term “Arab Spring.” The word “spring” generally refers to something in quick motion. Arab revolt will prove to be anything but quick. It will be slow, it will be painful, and it will be bloody.
    As for your part-time courage, I think you should go ahead and finish your post. You need to develop thicker skin (virtual skin) and not worry about the vitriol that may come your way. Remember, in your blog, you’re always speaking to three thirds of us: the first third will disagree with you and yell at you no matter what; the second third may be influenced by what you have to say and may well join your camp; the third third already on your side, but it would be nice to have their view reinforced by what you have to say. So you see, you will always have 66% positive audience. That’s pretty damn good.

    • EricIndiana says:

      That’s a nice thought. It sounds about right. I think that the problem I have with hateful email is that it seems more intimate than people yelling slurs on the street. I can always feel my heart pounding – it feels like a very personal attack even though the writer doesn’t know me at all.

  6. Tom Blancato says:

    Don’t give up hope or let them bring you down. Nonviolence happens wherever it is thought, for essential reasons that exceed the grasp of those who attack categorically. Far better, I think, to learn to make string from the fibers of such attacks, and spin on the charka of your own making, the spinning of the thought of nonviolence, spin in opposition to the great dominations and imperialisms of Being itself by the violence and so much illusion. For violence is indeed grounded in illusion most of all, and feeds the other rampant and much maligned illusions of the world.

    Meanwhile the world needs voices for nonviolence all the more. Syria is without question a site in which most of the world has failed. Here, you are indeed among the few, the noble few, to paraphrase Shakespeare’s speech of King Harry in a way he would never have undertaken — the noble few who have remembered to remembered, have thought the thought of nonviolence where few have even scarcely understood its meaning or that its being thought is likewise both its condition of possibility and the breath and substance of the lives it could have spared in Syria thus far, even if it has its own dangers.

    You are not alone, as they little notes from Amnesty International say.

    You are not alone.

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