Just some personal notes of reflection: I recently found myself reading a pretty provocative cocktail of books… A friend gave me “The Gift of Anger” by Arun Gandhi while I was in middle of reading “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” by Martin Luther King, Jr.
One thing is truly glaring—Gandhi and MLK’s ideas of non-violence have been so perverted by connotations of passivity. Practicing non-violence does not mean a movement is non-confrontational. Non-violence does not equate legality with morality. Movements rooted in non-violence acknowledge the plight of marginalized people who have turned to violence in the throes of oppression.
In order to be loving and empathetic, we must understand systems of oppression and mindfully learn ways to foster agency for those who have historically been disenfranchised.
Anger is a powerful tool in the hands of the oppressed. It is the industrious force behind action and in this case, is the vehicle for change. A year ago on January 21, 2017, an estimated 725,000 gathered in Washington D.C. and an estimated 4 million people gathered worldwide in solidarity for the Women’s March. It was visually commanding to witness the sheer density of people that filled the streets. According to the Washington Post, it “was likely the largest single-day demonstration in recorded U.S. history.” But gathering in cites across the world was only the beginning. Among countless actions of resistance this year and following it with gusto, a record number of women are running for office and Tanara Burke’s “Me Too” movement which was created originally in 2007 as “a grass-roots movement to aid sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities where rape crisis centers and sexual assault workers weren’t going” has reached women across the world. “Empowerment through empathy” is being employed to help speak about experiences of sexual harassment and assault. And the momentum is only building.