January 23, 2021
It sounds like the start of a joke about a bar: Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, and Dr. King walk into the Oval Office … but it’s not a joke. These nonviolence heroes’ sculptures and portraits are now adorning the walls of the new commander-in-chief. It’s a bit surreal. For years, we’ve been talking about mainstreaming nonviolence - and having three nonviolence figures in the Oval Office is definitely mainstream! But, beyond symbolic hat-tips, how will their presence influence an office known more for its violence than nonviolence? Pace e Bene’s Ken Butigan wrote a thoughtful and multifaceted piece on what the presence of these figures might portend:
“We shall see if the new administration truly honors these iconic figures of liberating nonviolence. How? By taking nonviolent action itself over the next four years for real peace and justice.” Read more>>
We certainly see a few hopeful signs: KXL Pipeline rejected. Public health prioritized. Paris Accord rejoined. Muslim Ban ended. Border Wall halted. Eviction Moratorium extended. President Biden’s first day in office reflected years of relentless nonviolent organizing by climate activists, immigrant rights groups, housing justice organizers, and many more. His actions on these issues would not have happened without visionary persistence by grassroots movements. They came about because tens of thousands of people signed the Pledge of Resistance to stop the KXL pipeline. They came about because we protested the abhorrent Border Wall. They came about because millions of school children have gone on School Strikes on Fridays.
Indeed, the very fact that Biden and Harris were sworn in - rather than usurped through a coup of lies - owes a debt of gratitude to the tens of thousands of people who shored up the institutions, election officials, and voting process during the efforts to thwart a coup. Read civil resistance scholar Stephen Zunes’ recap of how our efforts ensured that truth won the day - and the next four years.
Pace e Bene is proud to have played our part in all of this. In the past four months, our Election Action focus has trained people for nonviolent action, circulated ideas for dispersed tactics, relayed important information at every step of the process, and put resources into organizers’ hands. We did this in collaboration with hundreds of groups and organizations. And, we’re relieved that it worked. Democracy prevailed. Check out Choose Democracy’s summary and parting words here.
Now … onward! President Biden’s first day in office offers a glimpse of how significant a shift toward nonviolent policies can be. But we also know that our pressure and vision is required to keep up this momentum. For years, Pace e Bene has maintained that a world free from all forms of violence, including structural and systemic, is possible. We already know that movements are central to making this change happen … and that our involvement in nonviolent movements in 2021 will shape our world for decades to come. Nonviolence gives us tools to springboard from recent successes and push for the full depth and breadth of change that is required in these times. We are grateful that you are on the journey with us.
Toward a culture of nonviolence,
Ryan, Veronica, Ken, Erin, Rivera, Rosie and the Pace e Bene Team