Non-cooperation does not always mean stopping traffic or getting arrested. In fact, such tactics can be problematic: they can alienate people who need to get to work and are not part of the problem, maybe they were sympathetic. At first. Then, too, what about who is able and willing to get arrested? Usually not those who are undocumented or who would prefer to stay out of jail because they have been incarcerated in the past, even if the protests are being done for their well-being. While such actions are certainly the fruit of noble intentions, and have seen brilliant successes here and there, they tend to be more disruptive in the end than constructive.
Non-cooperation has another face, though. Whenever we go against a prevailing social impulse, such as greed or retribution, we are non-cooperating with the worldview that we are separate from one another–we are, in short, non-cooperating with violence. This does not look like a sweeping protest taking over the I-5 on one evening; it looks like one person helping another, even if they do not know them. It looks like a mother holding back a harsh word she was about to say to her child, and maybe even adding something encouraging instead. It looks like someone sharing their resources with someone who has less or none, or even, just to be radical, with someone who has more! Our culture tells us that we are greedy and we don’t have enough, so we need to compete and fight with others for the resources that are in short supply. What happens if we share instead? What happens if we work together instead? What happens if we expect ourselves to be empathic instead of selfish? Non-cooperation suddenly becomes available to everyone, and transforms the public’s opinion…of itself!
Do an at least one act today that expresses your non-cooperation with violence.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 email@example.com