Violence and Nonviolence are Tools

Is Nonviolence a Tactic, Policy, or Principle?

Is Violence Pragmatic and Necessary?

Both can be ineffective. Both can be effective.

It’s not Violence vs. Nonviolence.

It’s Violence and Nonviolence, and

how they’re leveraged for success.

Violence, nonviolence, and civil disobedience are tools in the great struggle against tyranny and oppression. They have been used in the great class war against the Global Financial and Political Elites. They still are. These tools are strategies and tactics based upon values and principles. Violence and nonviolence are no more anything else than the term Global War on Terrorism is rife with misnomers. Terror is a feeling. It’s an immediate physiological response to a reactive emotion. Flight or fight or freeze and still piss your pants. Terrorism is a tactic in crime and war. It’s been pointed out repeatedly one cannot wage a military campaign against tactics. Instead, one does so with strategies and tactics against enemies using terror as a tactic.

Many of us confuse nonviolence with being a rigid “thing.” Growing numbers of people continue to feel inspired by the fierce stands Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., took for nonviolence. Ironically, both were murdered almost 20 years apart during periods of violent civil strife. Their deaths sparked even greater outbreaks of violence.

Even so, many people view nonviolence as an inviolate colonnade of pillars holding up temples of peace as if such abstractions of mind existed out in the physical world. Nonviolence, a tool, has come to be regarded as religious doctrine by many people. Instead of a tactic, however, it’s another invisible but real, to them, flying buttress supporting the invisible architecture of an abstract cathedral. By doing so, these believers in the holiness of this abstract tool risk bringing everything they stand for collapsing down upon them in bloody ruin.

The proponents of nonviolence, upholding Gandhi and King and even Buddha and Jesus, often dismiss or suppress any challenge to nonviolence. Who would dare question nonviolence? I imagine the Global Elites and the security and intelligence apparatus under their control appreciate being the only ones to dispense violence while not receiving any in turn. Nonviolence helps keeps them in power.

Don’t make any abstraction of mind so rigid an ideology it cripples effective action. It doesn’t matter if it’s politics, religion, economics, or tradition. Those nouns, those words stand for concepts with definitions held within the abstract mind. Which means we make it all up in our heads and call it “real.” If enough people agree yes, it’s real indeed, and then we label it “consensual reality.” And so we go, as brilliantly collapsed as ever. All abstractions are tools.

The most effective toolboxes have a modest variety of choices. It is the same during resistance against oppression and struggles for justice, equality, and liberty. We struggle against the class war of the financial elites, against institutionalized racism, corporatism, sexism, corruption, and fascism. We struggle for social, environmental, and economic justice. We struggle for power. Aye, we struggle for the power to determine our own lives together.

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Amend the Second Amendment: An Immodest Proposal

Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

This is the second of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, those collectively regarded as the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment was ratified on December 15, 1791. That’s a little more than fifteen years after the American Declaration of Independence and eight years after the Peace Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolutionary War. It became known as the “Right to Bear Arms” amendment.

Note the Constitution lacks any direct reference to individual self-defense.  Instead we have a muddled Second Amendment that declares a stand for the right to bear Arms. Not swords, battle-axes, legs, or cannon, but arms as in firearms as in guns. It doesn’t proclaim a right to self-defense. Indeed, there is not any reference whatsoever to any right of self-defense. Which is interesting, isn’t it?

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Violence: After Newtown

There are days and there are nights when the best way to face horror and tragedy is to go right into it, into the pain, and not turn away.

The recent gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, touches us all on some level as our lives are so intertwined. A young man, Adam Lanza, sick with perhaps more than one illness, shot dead 20 young boys and girls, seven adults, and then took his own life. His illnesses are termed “psychological” or “mental” even though all such disorders stem from the body as mind arises from brain activity. Reports claim he shot many of these people numerous times. He was so accurate with his gun that there were no survivors among those he shot.

Police reports claim he used a Bushmaster .223 caliber Remington AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle. It’s a demilitarized version of the Army’s Vietnam-era M16 and is categorized as an assault rifle. Our national ban on assault rifles expired in 2004. Adam Lanza also allegedly carried two handguns and several hundred rounds of ammunition including high-capacity magazines for the Bushmaster. He stole these weapons from his mother, a registered gun owner, whom he killed first.

Regardless of deep emotions and strong beliefs inflamed by such murders, this massacre of schoolchildren as young as six and seven years old aroused a nation. Indeed, it aroused the world. We are once again reminded that even though we divide ourselves over politics, religion, and ethnicity, we are still one species sharing one planet.

Many issues are at stake here. What is most striking is even though so many people have staked out rigid positions on the various issues; many more are willing to engage in dialogue about them for solutions. That is good news and feels long overdue.

Let me name the dragons we finally have the courage to face as a nation. Keep in mind that to name something is to identify it and to some degree rob it of its power. To name something is to respond without reacting and thus we take on being responsible. By taking on responsibility, especially after first accepting what has happened even if we don’t like it, we become cause in the matter, not victims of circumstance.

Below I name our dragons:

This is an issue of emotionally laden language between groups of people who label each other “gun nuts” versus “gun grabbers.” The issue is the capacity and the willingness to set such divisive blame and shame language aside, or the incapacity and unwillingness for people to do so. Can we stop calling each other names?

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Overflow! Reflections on Kayaking Class 5 Overflow Creek

Jeff going "singless" running Singley's Falls.

Jeff going “singless” running Singley’s Falls.

We expected extreme whitewater. We knew we were all skilled paddlers, climbers, and hikers and could handle ourselves in the wilderness. We were trained in river rescue. We just had no idea our party of four kayakers would get stuck in a confrontation with the Grim Reaper deep in a remote Appalachian gorge as the Sun slid down behind the tallest trees.

In the pages of North Carolina Canoeing, Bob Sehlinger and Don Otey write of the notoriously wild Chattooga River, “If Section IV bores you, try Overflow Creek.” They declared it was for  “boaters with…a little insanity.”

Such crazy madness was the predicament the four of us found ourselves in one sunny, warm afternoon: were we really all that bored with Section IV? Heck, after all, the Chattooga was at a romping 2.8 feet on the gauge. In the end we figured we were indeed bored with Section IV and probably not quite all there in the head, either. Though we were much more of a humble and calm team. We were just more on the spiritually cool side of gonzo.

Truth be told, we mainly wanted relief from rowdy crowds congregating along Section III that day for the recent International Peace Rally hosted by the Nantahala Outdoor Center. As much as we enjoyed partying with the Soviets and Costa Ricans, when it came down to the water, we were seekers of solitude. So off into the wilderness of North Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest we went.

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