Written on: November 24, 2014
There have been many protests against the violence experienced in Ferguson, MO when Michael Brown was killed by a local law enforcement officer. And rightly so! The nation awaits the verdict that is almost guaranteed to set off violence no matter what it is. This same pattern of response happens after every such crime and yet they continue. Something is missing from these protests; they are not achieving the intended long term results. We need to ask ourselves in all honesty, what are the results that we seek? Is it peace with justice, or is it revenge? If we think that supplying our local law enforcement agencies with weapons used in war is the answer, or if the protesters arm themselves as for war, then we’re talking revenge. If it is building right relationships within the community, we’re talking peace with justice.
Concerned citizens in every community would do well to consider the latter. It only takes a small cross section of concerned and committed citizens to start the movement toward building right relationships within a community. Start small with doable activities, but dream big for transforming results.
Building right relationships requires personal encounters with people you don’t know. Get to know them as neighbors with the same hopes and dreams as you. Admittedly, there is the risk of moving out of your comfort zone, but that’s small compared to the results that can be achieved.
Find a safe environment to gather a group. Spend time in dialogue in order to come to a common agreement upon a nonviolent purpose. Perhaps create a slogan and/or logo to bring the movement to the public’s eye and use it everywhere! Set a realistic timeline with achievable benchmarks and don’t give up! It’s all about building positive relationships and that takes a time.
Sister Diane Bardol coordinates Justice and Peace advocacy efforts for the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.