Whose Story is History?

     “History is written by the victors.”

     This means history is written by a scant few cultures about meager few “victories” over the silenced vanquished. History, then, is focused on violent clashes where one language, one culture, one “truth” is imposed on others. As Gandhi writes in his book Indian Home Rule, “History, then, is a record of an interruption of the course of nature. Soul-force, being natural, is not noted in history.”

     Forgiveness is not made famous. Love is rarely lauded except as the cause of events such as the Trojan War. Nonviolence and civil resistance, as a recorded mass movement, is a relatively recent development; however, nonviolence has always existed at least as long as violence. There are multitudes of people in the world too, because love is the rule.

The fact that there are so many men still alive in the world shows that it is based not on the force of arms but on the force of truth or love. Therefore, the greatest and most impeachable evidence of the success of this force is to be found in the fact that, in spite of the wars of the world, it still lives on. (Indian Home Rule)

Violence is the aberration, a suspension of sense. Cain’s selfish choice as opposed to Abel’s sacrifice

     A scan of our children’s history and geography textbooks is an overview of violence and borders slashed with swords. How much more should we teach peace and community? Nonviolence and civil disobedience should be at the heart of every child’s education. Whether or not students attain full satyagraha or not, they must understand the efficacy of nonviolence and the ridiculous futility of violence perpetuating violence. If all they are taught is war and power, then these things will seem inevitable and necessary.

     As a result, the civil rights movement has been bronzed in our minds but not bequeathed to our hearts. SNCC has disappeared and nonviolence is relegated to the Sixties. Martin Luther King did not copyright nonviolence any more than Gandhi or Thoreau. It was the reason the civil rights movement was successful, but its effectiveness is not limited to a single such issue. It can be adapted to such different issues as colonization and segregation and discrimination and education; it is only dependent on the soul-force of those willing to practice it.

     Immigration reform, education inequality, our increasingly militarized country- all of these need to be civilly disobeyed. Instead of merely looking up to the civil rights heroes of the past, we and our children must start to stand on their shoulders and continue their nonviolent soul-force to the current inequalities.

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  1. The fact that we have not learned the three main lessons of the civil rights movement is the great sin of our generation not turning our hearts to our fathers. Those lessons are: 1-Segregation is immoral, unethical, untennable, and harmful. 2-Nonviolence is the most powerful political force possible. 3-Disobedience must be studied, understood, and practiced. All three of these lessons could be revived if nonviolent civil disobedience were employed to end segregation based on immigration status.


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