Friday, December 02, 2011

Pledge protection

When a herd of us (19) went to our US Senator's office to offer nonviolent resistance to that Senator's failure to pledge to never vote any more funding for the occupation of Iraq, we brought our own pledge with us. That pledge was signed by each of us and kept in our pockets. It was also sent to media, given to police, to the senator's staff, and to several Homeland Security officers who ultimately arrested us.

The pledge:

Nonviolence Pledge for March 20, 2006 Action

I pledge to engage only in nonviolent behavior during my participation in the civil resistance action at Ron Wyden’s office in Portland on March 20, 2006 and any events that flow from that action, including, but not limited to, while in police custody, when in court, when publicly presenting to anyone about this action, and if participating in any follow-up actions. This is a commitment for this context only and does not necessarily
imply a lifetime commitment to nonviolence or to any of these behaviors under other circumstances.

·         I will not bring weapons, illegal drugs or alcohol.

·         I will demonstrate positive regard for the humanity of all.

·         I will not engage in physical violence.

·         I will engage in nonviolent resistance to war.

·         I will not engage in verbal violence (no threats of bodily harm, no screaming
·         or swearing or attacks on anyone's character or identity).

·         I will make every attempt to communicate nonviolently (with calm, with reason,
·         with openness to each human being) or be silent.

·         I will not run.

·         I will stand or sit, or, if need be, I will quietly and calmly walk away.

·         I will not engage in property destruction (even that which I may regard as
·         nonviolent).

·         I will engage in clear actions that condemn war and militarism.

·         I will not engage in acts of costumed street theater or other diversionary
·         tactics.

·         I will remain dignified and allow no one to take that from me.

This pledge blunted any possibility of a failure to impress everyone with our sincerity, our nonviolent commitment, and our determination to offer resistance to injustice and militarism. Indeed, our press coverage was favorable, Homeland Security officers were sweet as pie, and the Senator changed his tune, his tone, and became a leader in calling for an end to the occupation.

Was that so hard?

We were nice to everyone, we never chanted anything, we allowed all constituents to pass through unimpeded or molested by us, and everyone parted friends, a job well done. We won, and the Senator won. Homeland Security was not portrayed as evil, so they got off easy, and we kept the focus on the issue: GET OUT OF IRAQ. We moved a Senator to do the right thing.

Of course we didn't pander to anyone, we didn't allow in anyone who wouldn't sign the pledge, and so we were elitist and exclusive. Tough. We achieved our goal and that, I hope, is good enough.

This builds trust. More and more Occupy actions are seeing the value in this. It is one of the best hopes of the movement.


Terri said...

Good to see you back on the blog. I wonder if our anger doesn't cloud good judgment. Our neighborhood just went through this over a tree being cut down by new home builders. The most vicious was the "activist" in the neighborhood. The new owners are a very sweet couple and meant no ill and plan to replace the tree with something less destructive than the sick old tree that was there. Their car was keyed last night, a cowardly act in the shadows. Because actions and words have been clouded by anger, much harm has come to the human relationships in what was a very close community. Those who are willing to sign a pledge of nonviolence are saying clearly that they have dealt with their anger and are ready to do the real hard adult work of peace and conflict resolution. Thanks for the reflection.

Tom H. Hastings said...

Having attended your neighborhood fun fair this summer I am aware of the close and friendly spirit in your neighborhood. I hope it is regained after this unfortunate lapse. I like your insights on a pledge that indicates a willingness to get on with the adult business of nonviolent conflict management.