If we as a community and a nation respond to the violent rhetoric of the Republican nominee with violent protest, we will only be ratifying his words. It would be a disservice to the truth in our hearts and a voluntary delivery of ammunition to his cause. History has given us plenty of examples how two evils cannot create one good. We know of the vicious cycle of hate, generational hatred designed to perpetuate itself by deepening already profound mythological differences. We have heard these speeches before, inscribed in our collective memory, we know when and why people speak like they do and we cringe because of it. That is why it is easy to fall for the rush of blood to the head, but our personal and historical responsibility must stop us from reactivity and instead fill us with the courage of conscious action.
In its ever evolving wisdom, human history has also given us examples today we can use as tools. Nonviolent activism represents the external expression of centuries of human valor and discipline. The great men of peace from the past century formulated a set of principles. They fought against the oppression of humans by humans, they fought for their people and all people, and left behind their playbook for us all to use. Nowadays, their momentary existence endures in those principles because we have them at our disposal: not a passive acceptance but an active resistance built upon the ripples of their achievements.
Probably they never imagined their actions were to be as long as the wind. When it touches water, a pebble sinks before the first wave, but its succeeding orbits grow ever larger and in them they carry the essence of the stone. From the salt depot in Dharasana to the Edmund Pettus Bridge all the way to the CODESA talks, these men of peace achieved change and affected human history while maintaining the greatest regard for humanity and human life, even that of their adversaries, oppressors, abusers, destructive men.
These three mountains of history fought for the rights of their people to choose their own destiny. With the independence of India, the Civil Rights movement or the end of Apartheid, they achieved for us all the significant sense that we have the right, by being human beings, to decide which road our nations independently and by default humanity as a whole will create.
Peace is not just the absence of war but a state of being. It is now our turn to look into ourselves and let hate make us not hateful, but sources of peace. The right to protest is guaranteed by the Constitution, but the everlasting effect of it will depend on the characteristics it takes. Am I to stand in front of a Tank in Tiananmen Square or burn down a CVS? The choice is now ours. It’s a chance for each of us to decide which kind of human being we wish to be and to be that very person we wish to become.
People fought and died against this very virulent rhetoric to give us all the opportunity to decide, to exercise our right to vote. there is no stronger act of peaceful resistance than voting against violent language, against hatred and bigotry. The same speech they defeated with blood, let us honor by defeating with our vote. It is not time to stay home because of personal preferences but to rise above personalistic politics and embrace our moment in history. It is time to stand up against racism and xenophobia, time to quiet the loud voices of anger with the silent strength of our vote. We should always remember that for each thunderous bomb destroying life there are billions of whispering caresses creating existence.