Principles at the Core of Nonviolent Protest
1. See Yourself In A Whole New Way!
A Gandhi Vow:
“I am a child of the Creator who loves me exactly as I am…”
Gandhi read Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” and assumed by the arrangement of those five words that it was necessary to love yourself before loving your neighbor was even possible. Therefore he insisted that people who did not love themselves should not participate in a NONVIOLENCE campaign until they could see themselves in a whole new way.
For centuries, India’s “untouchables” had been seen as inferior, outcasts, and not quite human. They couldn’t join Gandhi in freeing India until they saw themselves in a whole new way. To help achieve that goal, Gandhi renamed the “untouchables” Harijan” or “Children of God.” It worked. During Gandhi’s lifetime the Harijan began to see themselves in a whole new way. Fifty years later, K.R. Narayanan, a Harijan, was elected President of India. A British High Commissioner wrote, “Gandhi taught the Indian to straighten his back, to raise his eyes, to face circumstances with a steady gaze.”xxxv
For centuries, African-Americans had been seen as inferior, outcasts and not quite human. In a speech to the National Press Association, Dr. King explained that his people had to see themselves in a whole new way before they could rise up nonviolently against oppression.
“Once plagued with a tragic sense of inferiority resulting from the crippling effects of slavery and segregation, the Negro has now been driven to reevaluate himself. He has come to feel that he is somebody. With this new sense of somebodiness and self- respect, a new Negro has emerged with a new determination to achieve freedom and human dignity whatever the cost may be.”xxxvi
For centuries church and state have seen LGBTQ people as inferior, outcasts and not quite human. Every time I repeat these words – “God created you and loves you exactly as you are” – LGBTQ people in the audience tear up and even applaud. Even atheists applaud! Like Gandhi’s Harijan and King’s “Negroes” LGBTQ people have been told by Christians repeatedly that God doesn’t love them as they are. No wonder they need to see themselves in a whole new way before they can reclaim their humanity and take their stand against homophobia and oppression.