Tag Archives: Principles of Nonviolent Social Change

Walking Through, Not Away

We often talk about how much our work in building Beloved Community is based on relationship, and how a willingness to do anti-racism work requires a commitment to proximity, to “getting close” to problems, situations and people.

Many of us feel blessed by the bonds developed in the course of learning hard truths, sharing terrible burdens, and forging plans of action. But we also have encountered the challenges that are part of all human relationships, at times feeling as frustrated with our companions in this work as we do with the opposition to our efforts.

It is tempting to feel our movement is faltering, that we cannot waste time and effort in working through differences when there is so much work to be done in dealing with those who do not yet share our conviction to “undo” racism.

But we cannot tackle racism, one of the most intractable of human problems, without stirring up deeply-held feelings. Managing our frustration with one another and our despair with the steepness of the hill we are trying to climb is not a small part of our work.

All of us actively involved in CCGTX walked through the door with hearts already convinced of the moral wrongness of racism. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change have been held up repeatedly as the road map we are following, and most of us have plunged into Steps One and Two of Dr. King’s Six Steps with some eagerness.

Now we are engaged with the tasks of Steps Three and Four, having come far enough into the process to have encountered the emotional toll and spiritual challenges that accompany this work. This is where we need to put our hearts and minds to considering the nuts and bolts of the task of living out the principles we espouse.

And we find that our work can be as much with ourselves and with each other as it is with those who oppose us.

Just repeating the steps on the road map will not suffice, and we find we need concrete instruction on walking through conflicts with our integrity and love remaining intact.

Perhaps the whites among us, unaccustomed to not getting our own way, struggle with this more than people of color as we have come to expect the world to yield to our wishes.

In any case, we all need help in learning HOW to do what we know we need to do.

To that end, our Core Group is exploring concrete steps we can take. A conflict-resolution model will be examined within the group and we look forward to reporting outcomes and lessons learned to our wider community.

Susan Wukasch
Chair, Cultural and Historical Accuracy Learning/Action Group