Thursday, January 04, 2018

Initial thoughts on civil disobedience

There is much talk of insurrection, civil disobedience, and more in Honduras these days. This scares a lot of people. Thanks be to God, I have heard almost nothing of violence against the government.

But what about the election fraud, what about the efforts of political leaders to concentrate all power in their party or person, what about the tying of public employment in some cases to party affiliation, what about corruption, what about the poverty that has increased this past year? Does this concern us?

I hope and pray that real change comes about and that it comes through nonviolent organizing that empowers people at the bottom of society. This would be a long term project that won’t be completed in a month, because it means that real people begin to assume servant leadership in their communities. I don’t see it as being accomplished by a single leader or a single political party.

Right after the elections, while the Election Tribunal was delaying and obfuscating the vote tallies and, as some suggested, manipulating them, people took to the streets. What many noticed was the near spontaneous nature of the protests as well as the strong participation of young people.

Streets were blocked with trees and tires burned to prevent passage. There was some looting, but it is not clear whether this was the action of the protestors or of infiltrators and of common criminals taking advantage of the situation of unrest and uncertainty.

But I wonder how the people in the British colonies from Maine to Georgia felt when they heard of the Boston Tea Party in December, 1773. My guess is that some were very troubled, even though no lives were taken, as far as I know, but property was destroyed. (But the white colonials disguised themselves as “Indians.”)

I have very serious concerns about property destruction as well as the burning of tires and trees in the streets. I am totally opposed to any use of violence by protestors, even though I can understand the frustration. And I also wonder if there has been any serious training in nonviolent action – as was done in the civil rights movement in the US.

 But I am more concerned about the violent reaction of the security forces, who are financed in great part by a foreign country, the US. Even the government-related human rights office acknowledges some deaths from government forces.

Where this will go, I have no idea. In the meantime, I will continue to serve the people here in our parish, by the grace of God.

Ib all this, I am consoled and challenged by these words of Pope Francis to a meeting of popular movements in California in February 2017.

 We know that none of these ills began yesterday. For some time, the crisis of the prevailing paradigm has confronted us. I am speaking of a system that causes enormous suffering to the human family, simultaneously assaulting people’s dignity and our Common Home in order to sustain the invisible tyranny of money that only guarantees the privileges of a few. “In our time humanity is experiencing a turning-point in its history.” 
            As Christians and all people of good will, it is for us to live and act at this moment. It is “a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse.”  These are signs of the times that we need to recognize in order to act. We have lost valuable time: time when we did not pay enough attention to these processes, time when we did not resolve these destructive realities. Thus the processes of dehumanization accelerate. The direction taken beyond this historic turning-point—the ways in which this worsening crisis gets resolved—will depend on people’s involvement and participation and, largely, on yourselves, the popular movements.
            We should be neither paralyzed by fear nor shackled within the conflict. We have to acknowledge the danger but also the opportunity that every crisis brings in order to advance to a successful synthesis.
…No people is criminal or drug-trafficking or violent. “The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence yet, without equal opportunities, the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and will eventually explode.”  ...By confronting terror with love, we work for peace.
            I ask you for meekness and resolve to defend these principles. I ask you not to barter them lightly or apply them superficially. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, let us give everything of ourselves: where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, let us sow pardon; where there is discord, let us sow unity; where there is error, let us sow truth.  

No comments: