Sunday, August 20, 2017

Wisdom from a mentor, Ruby Sales

The episode of the radio program, "On Being" that aired today on Austin's KUT station was an interview with Ruby Sales, theologian and civil rights activist.  The episode is called "Where does it hurt?"  Highly recommended.  Check it out at this link.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Speaking truth about racism

Photo from today's Rally Against White Supremacy at Austin's City Hall, photo by Jay Janner of the Austin American-Statesman

Austin held a large, nonviolent Rally Against White Supremacy today at our City Hall.  Powerful speakers held us to our task.  Economic Justice is still not achieved in our city, which has a history and also a present reality of racial segregation.  There is much to be done.  There is a strong commitment to equality, diversity, compassion and justice in our community, though, and many people are working in all levels toward these common goals.  We grieve our history of domestic terrorism that has included lynching, forced removal of people from their homes and neighborhoods, official segregation and systematic denials of access in housing, education, government and business.  Several of today's speakers led the crowd in repeating the names of past and present victims of these crimes.  Many of the names I admit I did not know.  Education is a lifelong process.


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

10 Ways to Fight Hate

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a longtime organization in Montgomery,  Alabama dedicated to exposing hate groups and countering them through education and legal action, has published a 10-point guide to action in the wake of the white supremacist riot in Charlottesville this weekend.

Point number 6 in this "Ten Ways to Fight Hate" guide is especially instructive right now.  It encourages people to not engage armed hate groups, and especially not to engage them with weapons.  Such hate groups have stated that they want physical fights.  Don't give them what they want.  Coming armed with chemical sprays or any kind of weapon to a rally heightens fear for everyone, even one's allies, and increases the risk that people will get hurt.  Resist the temptation to yell obscenities back at anyone.  Name-calling can tip someone who is already spoiling for a fight over the edge.  Peace-making is a discipline.  It shows personal strength and discipline when you maintain your own dignity by not repeating the ugly behavior of someone else.

Instead of yelling or fighting directly back at hate groups, the SPLC advises us to hold alternative events in separate locations that focus on upholding the civil rights, equality and dignity of all people, countering the messages of the hate groups.  Many such events were held around the country following the killing in Charlottesville, showing how much power there is in people coming together nonviolently to express their feelings and values.

Check out the complete 10-point guide at this link.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Peace Takes Courage

The current US president makes reckless threats of violence that would harm the entire world.  He says he is acting tough.  But, no, bullying behavior is not toughness.  It is tough to sit down and speak directly and respectfully with one's adversaries.  It is tough to admit and apologize for one's mistakes.  It is tough to listen to the pain of others. It is tough to delve into history and educate oneself as thoroughly as possible about the factors that have created different governments, borders, social systems.

Threatening violence to others is taking the cowardly route.  Building peace is what takes courage.  That's one of SOY's messages, and we are looking forward to the upcoming school year, when we meet many courageous students who are working hard in their classes while at the same time dealing with challenges in family life, national policies regarding immigration, worries about college affordability and the everyday tough work of becoming young adults.  We look forward to hearing what students are saying and observing the ways in which many teachers and staff continue to model conflict resolution and positive communication.  We believe in education, not militarization.

(graphic courtesy of Veterans for Peace, which is holding its annual national convention this weekend with this theme)