THE BIRTH OF A NONVIOLENT WARRIOR
Author: Louise Diamond
A commitment to nonviolence grows through testing. When faced with a moment of choice, which way will we go? Will our fear cause us to run away, or our adrenaline cause us to fight? This story tells of such a moment for one young woman.
When groups started forming on my college campus in preparation for the IMFWorld Bank demonstrations in Washington, D. C., I attended my first social action meeting. I learned about the inequities of globalization, but most important, I was trained in nonviolent social action.
On the streets of Washington, all was chaos. Different groups were demonstrating in different ways, and the police were unpredictable. I saw a lot of people get hurt.
One incident in particular stands out. A few of us were trying to find the rest of our team, having become separated in the confusion. As we turned a corner, suddenly there was a group of police in full riot gear. We stopped, and stood quietly. Someone whispered a reminder to stay calm and to recall that our issue was not with the police but with the World Bank.
The police started toward us menacingly, shields raised. I was so scared I wanted to run. But the words of my training came back to me"The purpose is to witness your love for all humanity." In that moment, I realized that "all humanity" included not just the poor in the developing world who, I thought, were being hurt by World Bank and IMF policies, but the police right in front of me, who were just doing their job as best they could.
I stood straighter, and let that love for all humanity come through my eyes, as I looked directly at the policeman in front of me. The others in my group must have been doing something similar, because the police stopped just a couple of feet away from us, lowered their shields, and asked where we were headed. They escorted us safely around a noisy crowd so we could rejoin our group.
I realized later how easily I could have become argumentative and confrontational in that moment, seeing those policemen as "the enemy."
But by staying clear about my purpose for being there, and by including the police in that purpose, I came to understand the true power of nonviolent action.