Satyagraha (Truth Force)
*Gandhi leading the Great Salt March, 1930.
Salt of the Earth
In 1906, on September 11,
in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi
spent a long night in a train station
after being kicked out of the first class cabin,
because he was colored.
The enormity of British oppression energized
his mind as he pieced together the elements of
Three principles emerged: Satya (truth),
Ahmisa (refusal to inflict injury), Tapasya
(willingness for self sacrifice).
He realized experience of the truth
about Apartheid – the violent oppression of it,
was a powerful, life changing force.
Eventually this force came to be called
Satyagraha, truth force.
He saw, because violence begets violence,
that resistance to oppression had to be non-violent.
He saw that society acquiesced, cooperated
with the oppressor and that individuals
could stop doing that.
He saw that when people were able to take the
hypocritical masks away from the oppressors
and make them see the harm they were doing
they would stop.
He thought all people essentially good,
or capable of good, and that non-violent resistance
would open the souls of the oppressors to that good.
Later came the Great Salt March bringing millions
of Indians together to confront the British control
of salt, a necessity of life.
It was not an action for the faint of heart,
people were injured, died, but the movement
never turned violent and it never stopped.
Later Gandhi’s followers took it
upon themselves, in small communities, in families,
to produce their own salt.
The question for us today is how to apply Truth Force
to ourselves, because we are the oppressor,
not the ones oppressed (yet).
How, from within the belly of the beast, can we
stop US fascism and war?
Yesterday I asked people gathered for the Austin Peace Festival
to help me write this poem, to write down things we can do
to stop cooperating with the war machine.
Here are some ways, in my hometown, we try to implement
Allowing ourselves to stay discouraged is cooperation with
the war machine.
Vote for what you believe in, in the voting booth, with your dollars.
Nurture your spirit.
Resist corporate colonialism — support small, local business, take care
of your community by getting to know your neighbors.
Know your farmer, stop buying corporate food.
Isolate the war machine, foster community, fight war, know peace.
Use public transportation. Keep chickens.
Invest in the world you want to see, divest in the parasite.
Don’t hate the haters.
Stop doing business with unjust corporations.
Educate yourself about the real issues, find out what is really
Attitude precedes action, accept diversity, "Be the change
you wish to see in the world."
Please Let’s Everyone Act Consistently Everywhere for Peace.
Act out of love and respect for everyone.
Drop condoms, not bombs.
Cultivate a peaceful heart — imagine, visualize, pray for peace.
Boycott ABD, Halliburon, Brown and Root, Bechtel, etc.
There are soldiers refusing to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Support them, give sanctuary.
Talk directly to public school officials to express concern about military
influence in our schools, Junior ROTC and the Young Marines Program.
Post Iraq War "Memorials" on the windows of every military
recruiting station, on windows, light poles, corporate bulletin boards,
hospital doors, etc.
Paste anti-war stickers on utility posts at stop lights.
Cancel all subscriptions to main stream, corporate media. Send letters
saying we want true coverage, no lies, no apologies for war. Subscribe
to alternative media, foreign press. Give gifts of alternative media
subscriptions to public libraries and schools.
Don’t buy bottled water. Water has been privatized in the Third world.
The bottled water industry is another way to oppress poor people and
earn corporate profit. There are already wars for water, as with Israel
wanting control of the Litani river in Lebanon, and putting an apartheid
wall aroundwater sources which should be shared with Palestine.
Israeli settlers get water for their swimming pools and Palestinians
have their water cut off. Water is a war issue.
Follow the War Industry money. Look at weapons manufacturers.
What other companies do they own? Boycott them.
"I can go past my fear of rejection and scorn. I can find there my
courage, where truth is reborn, I can make myself public, with signs,
words and being.
I can become a vessel for change, awakening and healing."
Tithe — do one thing every day to wage peace, end war.
Find the anti-war movement. Engage.
After 911 the Bush Administration created a LIE force, which
we must transform with the power of Satyagraha.
* Charlie Jackson, founder of Texans for Peace,
with Code Pink umbrella at Austin Peace Festival,
©Susan Bright, 2006
Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.
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