Trams on streets – an international perspective…

There has been a lot of concern about how light rail in Edinburgh can be introduced in a way that doesn’t disrupt things for pedestrians and local businesses – here’s a way forward from Thailand…

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Article for Morning Star on SNP budget

morning star logo The SNP Government in Scotland has done remarkably well since its election success. A combination of Alex Salmond’s personal charm and a well-prepared programme for its first 100 days means that many of those who were sceptical about the SNP’s ability to run a viable alternative government have been won over. However, the new government now faces its sternest test – getting a budget through parliament. Given the limited amount of extra money from the UK Treasury, and the wide ranging promises made by the SNP over the last few months, cuts will have to be made somewhere. The choices that the SNP make will reveal whether they are at heart Celtic social democrats, prepared to steer a very different course from the previous Labour/Lib Dem coalition, or merely Tartan Tories.

The budget process also represents a huge challenge to the devolution ‘settlement’ of the last 8 years. Many of the big spending responsibilities – health, education, local government, transport and the environment – have been transferred to the control of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. The responsibility for taxation remains with the Chancellor in London. The Scottish Government is funded by a block grant from London.

The tensions that arise from this are very obvious; especially as the UK Chancellor for the last decade has been a Scottish MP. If the Chancellor gives more money to Scotland, it is the Scottish Government that gets the political credit for the new hospitals, schools or railways that are built. If the Chancellor raises taxes in Scotland, he or she gets all the blame. It has been argued that, as the UK Government gets no political credit for spending on devolved matters, it will always try to minimise the amount it gives to Scotland. Equally, it is in the interests of Scottish Ministers always to demand more cash from the Treasury, without having to worry where it comes from. To some extent this tension has been abated by the fact that Labour was effectively in charge in both London and Edinburgh, so a Scottish Labour member of the UK Parliament (like Gordon Brown or Alistair Darling) could claim some of the credit for the actions of Labour members of the Scottish Parliament. Now, however, we have the SNP in charge in Edinburgh.

The results were predictable. The SNP claimed that the Comprehensive Spending Review announced by Alistair Darling last week ‘squeezed and short changed Scotland’. They claimed that, because the Treasury had re-jigged the baselines for spending, Scotland would therefore receive only £135 million extra next year, compared to increases that were often worth over a billion in previous years. The UK Labour Government responded by arguing that the SNP had got their sums wrong and were looking for an excuse to scale back some of their promises. But this argument is, in many ways, irrelevant. What’s important here is not the current squabbling, but the fact that the system makes it very likely that there will be similar squabbling every year unless the party in government in Edinburgh happens to be the same as the one in control in London.

So the current settlement cannot continue. The tension between the Treasury and Scottish Ministers is too strong. The Scottish Government will have to have greater tax raising powers. There are models the SNP can point to – the Catalan Government last year won the right from the Spanish Government to increase the share of income tax and VAT collected locally from around 35% to 50%. And, inevitably, with these tax-raising powers will come tax-varying powers.

All of this could represent a tremendous opportunity for the left. The Scottish Government has used its limited autonomy to resist marketisation of the NHS, to avoid school league tables, not to sell off the water companies and to build new railways (while railways are being closed in England). A Scotland with greater fiscal autonomy would have greater political autonomy, and could use this to set a very different course from that followed at Westminster. However, it doesn’t follow that this different course would be necessarily less neo-liberal than the UK Labour government. These new powers could be used progressively, to improve public services and economic democracy, or they could be used to set Scotland on a desperate race to compete with low-tax economies around the world, as some in the SNP have argued.

That is why the budget the SNP set over the next few months is so important. By showing us how the SNP use their existing powers, it will give a good indication as to how they might use wider powers.

The SNP manifesto for the 2007 election was a very effective piece of populist propaganda. It promised something to everyone – and it helped the SNP win votes from both the Trotskyite SSP and the Tories in the Scottish election.

But the big question they now face is how they pay for the promises, from scrapping student debt to more police on the streets, from smaller class sizes to business rate reductions for small business.

The SNP manifesto says this will be done by streamlining government and using government spending more efficiently. As you might imagine, this greatly concerned the civil service unions, but the SNP were at pains to reassure people that there would be no compulsory redundancies. However on 2 October it was revealed that plans are being drawn up for the Scottish Government to reduce the number of civil servants it employs centrally by 14% over the next 3 years. It will simply not be possible to achieve this without a reduction in the quality of service to the public and forced job cuts.

The SNP also made a commitment to freeze council tax levels at 2007-08 rates until their planned local income tax is put in place. Finance Minister, John Swinney, has no power to compel local authorities to do this, but he is also well aware that local authorities across Scotland are having real difficulties paying for the ‘single status’ wage agreements that will be required to ensure councils meet equal pay requirements. If he imposes a council tax freeze, without offering more central cash to make up the deficit, there will be a massive impact on jobs and services. We have already seen proposals by the SNP/Lib Dem coalition running Edinburgh Council to save money by shutting down 22 schools reversed after massive public opposition. Is Swinney prepared to force a spending freeze on local authorities whatever the cost?

The SNP also made a manifesto commitment that, “Transport policy must be
designed to meet the strategic needs of Scotland’s wealth creators”, which is why they are pressing ahead with road schemes like the M74 in Glasgow, a second Forth road bridge and the Aberdeen Western peripheral road. This cannot be sensibly reconciled with their commitment to 3% CO2 reductions. But by committing vast expenditure to roads, the opportunity to invest in world-class sustainable transport will be missed.

So the SNP will be faced with a series of strategic choices – cut business rates for small and medium-sized business or increase education spending to reduce class sizes? Press ahead with massive road building plans supported by the CBI and Road Hauliers or support local authorities to avoid massive cuts in jobs and services? Reject job cuts for the central civil service or increase the number of police by 1000?

There is already a struggle going on within the SNP over whose pet policies will have to be scrapped. The results of this struggle, which will be evident in the budget documents to be presented to the Scottish Parliament in a few weeks’ time, will tell us much about what kind of party the SNP truly is, and what impact greater fiscal powers for Scotland could have.

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University Service 2007

GreyfriarsAs Rector of Edinburgh University I was invited to preach the sermon at the University Service at Greyfriars Church on 23rd September 2007

The serpent said if you eat the apple you will have knowledge, your eyes will be opened and you will know good and evil…

And God was so angered when Adam and Eve acquired knowledge that he told them to leave paradise

What a damning indictment of education!

Though of course that’s not the end of the story. Because eating the apple gave humans choice – the choice between good and evil.

And we are promised that if we choose good there will be a new kingdom, and that the creator and humanity will at last be reconciled.

So knowledge may separate us from God. The knowledge Adam and Eve acquired from the apple made them hide from God when he came looking for them. On the other hand it is the choices we make, based on the knowledge we have, that may ultimately reconcile us with god.

This I think is a very profound truth about knowledge. About the power and about the discomfort that comes with knowledge. It is therefore very appropriate for the University Service.

My own area of interest is in environmental protection and nature conservation, and I find great parallels between the Biblical message of separation and reconciliation, and the message of the environmental movement.

Our species was once at one with nature, we dwelt in harmony with, and as part of nature. But our powerful imagination and keen intelligence, in fact our thirst for knowledge, set us apart from nature. And we have used that knowledge to try to dominate creation. Our science and technology has become ever more powerful at reshaping the world.

But it is also thanks to our advances in science and technology that we can examine what impact, for good and ill, this is having on our world. We are increasingly aware of the impact of pollution on our soil, air and sea. We can measure the rate of extinction of other species to amazing precision. And most of all we are increasingly aware that runaway climate change threatens to make our planet increasingly inhospitable for all life.

So a familiar pattern of harmony, followed by the coming of knowledge. And now we have the choices that the serpent talked about.

Because the knowledge we have can be used for good or evil. We can use the knowledge we have to increasingly despoil the earth, or to start to heal it.

And this is where I am very proud of the work that is being done at Edinburgh University, and the other Universities in the city, to develop new technologies that will help us tackle environmental challenges.

I am also proud that the university has managed to reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% since I was a student in the 1990s, and is aiming reduce them by a further 10% by 2010.

Partly this was due to big choices by the University, to choose to invest in new technologies, such as combined heat and power generators, but partly it was also due to a series of very small personal choices, to turn the lights off, to turn thermostats down and to take the stairs not the lift.

So where does this take us – Genesis tells the story of the separation between humans and the creator, Revelations tells the story of the reconciliation. I believe that the final chapter in the ecological story will come when we are reconciled with the rest of creation.

That means recognising that we are not separate from the rest of creation. We are not above creation. We must go beyond the idea that nature was provided purely for our benefit. If we try to measure God’s creation merely by what it can give us, we miss the real value. The Amazon rainforest can be measured in terms of its potential as a source of new medicines, or as a giant green lung absorbing carbon dioxide, but this misses the God-given beauty of the place.

So we must learn to value the rest of creation, and to build a new relationship, where we use our knowledge to work with the environment, not against it.

Our choices can lead us to a new relationship with nature. A relationship that says we are once again part of nature, but this time as a conscious choice…

And attending university is a process of opening eyes, about acquiring knowledge, and developing new understandings. The knowledge in our academic institutions will be keyto building any new relationships with nature.

Because the University, of course is an institution that is about knowledge. But it owes it’s foundation to a notion of democratising knowledge. Not keeping knowledge in, not knowledge as a private thing, but an idea of sharing knowledge, of allowing everyone access to the choices knowledge brings.

Knowledge that may well be uncomfortable for the individual, or even for society as a whole. Because knowledge is challenging.

For the university community this is the start of a new year. A new year that I am sure will be filled with challenges, with new experiences and new knowledge, it will also, I am sure, be a busy year. And in that busyness time for proper reflection can disappear. My own Quaker tradition places great emphasis on silence, as a way to reflect and consider, but also as a way to open ones heart to god. In the words of the great Scottish Quaker Robert Barclay

Each made it their work
to return inwardly
to the measure of grace in themselves.

I would therefore like for us now to have a couple of minutes of silent reflection and thought, to think about the year ahead, the challenges we face and the choices we make.

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Article for the Morning Star on climate campaigning

morning star logoClimate change has, if you will pardon the pun, been 2007’s hottest issue. It has seemed at times that every newspaper, every supermarket, every charity and every political party has rushed to proclaim its concern about the effect of greenhouse gases on our climate.

In the last few weeks we have seen massive floods across England, thousands dead and millions displaced in the Indian Subcontinent and the first ever man to swim at the North Pole as the artic ice recedes. This week sees the second Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow. BAA were so fearful of the coming of the protesters that they sought an injunction which would apparently have banned up to 5 million people not only from the airport and its surrounds but also from large parts of London’s public transport network.

There is now very little doubt that human behaviour is changing the climate. Even the oil companies and their paid scientists have shifted from denying climate change is happening to a position of recognising the problem but arguing that it would be too expensive to do anything about.

There is also a growing recognition that climate change is a class issue – as ever, it will be the global poor who bear the brunt of climate chaos. Tewksbury is rich enough to afford flood defences to avoid floods in the future – the future for Bangladeshis looks grim indeed. Ultimately tackling climate change means that we in the west will have to massively reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

But given all the hoopla about climate change, why is there still often little public appetite for action on climate change? Here in Scotland air passenger numbers are at their highest ever levels, and it is predicted that they will treble by 2030.

Last year was a poor year for used car sales, but the only cars to see an increase in sales are MPVs, sports cars, SUVs and luxury models – despite all the publicity about their high CO2 emissions. Attempts to introduce a congestion charge in Edinburgh in 2005 failed after 75% of the voters in a city-wide referendum rejected the proposed £2 charge.

I find myself with a lot to think about after the Scottish Greens’ poor performance in the recent Scottish Parliament election, where we lost 5 of our 7 seats. There were many other factors at work – the ballot paper was redesigned to disadvantage smaller parties, the SNP surged on an anti-Labour tide – but as we tried to fight the election on a climate change ticket, it does appear that this message failed to resonate with the voting public.

So, given the seriousness of the challenge to humanity, it is worth reflecting on how effectively the climate change message is getting through. I think there is a major problem in the way it has been framed. Climate change is presented as a very big, but also very distant problem. It is also effectively invisible – even the recent bad weather can at best be described as “the kind of phenomenon that will be more likely as climate change increases”. When faced with other problems that seem small, local and visible it is no wonder that politicians and the public alike take these more seriously. So during the Scottish election campaign the Greens were worrying about a global temperature rise of more than 2 degrees centigrade by 2050, while the SNP were campaigning to save local hospitals.

It is also worth examining solutions proposed to tackle climate change. These tend to fall into three main categories – the banal, the jargonistic and the scary. For the last few months there have been waves of TV adverts exhorting us to use energy efficient light bulbs, wash clothes at 30 degrees and not leave the TV on standby. The banality of these messages means they do not ring true in the face of the scale of changes we need to make to tackle climate change.

There is also a new layer of climate change jargon – Kyoto, carbon footprinting, offsetting, energy descent, carbon capture and sequestration. This is an almost impenetrable set of new concepts, still bitterly argued over. There are still plenty of companies that will take your money and plant a tree to ‘offset’ your carbon emissions, while most environmental organisations reject it as a solution.

Finally there are the scary solutions – no new roads, no more cheap flights, carbon rationing and so on. While some people in Scotland could see the logic in not holidaying in warmer climes to help save the polar bear, this appeals only to a small minority of the population. The climate change movement has allowed itself to become boxed in to a very negative set of responses that do not resonate with people’s aspirations for a better life.

Films like Al Gore’s ‘An inconvenient truth’ have also contributed to this. As a piece of climate propaganda it is long on scary statistics but short on examining why capitalism has got us into this mess and what can be done about it.

So what should be done? It is time we reframed the debate. Instead of talking about the big, distant and invisible we need to be talking about the small, the local and visible. Many of the things that need to be done in a society like Scotland to tackle climate change would have much more direct and appealing virtues. Instead of presenting dealing with climate change as an act of self-sacrifice, the idea of giving up the things that make life worth living, it needs to be linked to positive things. Sometimes this will mean not mentioning tackling climate change as a motivation at all.

For example, in the campaign for congestion charging in Edinburgh, climate change was stressed as one of the major issues tackled by the proposal. I even posed next to a polar bear with a placard saying “Polar bears say no to climate change and yes to congestion charging”. It might as well have said, “Repent, sinners, repent”, for all the impact it had. If I was fighting that campaign again I wouldn’t mention climate change. Instead I would campaign on a proposition that the charge would mean better public transport and reduce childhood asthma.

Equally, are power stations, airports and banks really good targets for climate protests? They may be massive polluters, but are generally quite positively regarded. Wouldn’t it be better to go for targets that most people dislike, and then try to convince people that they are doubly bad because not only is the opencast mine an unsightly, noisy and dirty scar on the landscape, it’s also a climate criminal…

The left was once very effective at selling a better vision of the future. Tackling climate change will mean massive changes in society. If we continue to use the politics of fear and promote CO2 reduction as worthy altruism, not as a positive choice, we will never be able to challenge the fossil fuel addiction that remains at the heart of the problem.

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Article for the Friend on faith into action

the friend

I unexpectedly became a Green Member of the Scottish Parliament in May 2003. Having promised my wife that standing for the Green Party meant I was unlikely to be troubled by political office, a combination of other green candidates withdrawing and Scotland’s complicated proportional representation system led to my unanticipated election.

I was not really prepared for this new position of responsibility, but I endeavoured to do the best job I could. I thought that, as an MSP, the thing that would help me the most in Quaker traditions and in meeting was the inspirational witness of other Friends and the support and strength of purpose I would draw from this to keep fighting for what I believe in.

However, I found I quickly became addicted to the adrenaline rush of ‘the struggle’. Keeping up the fight was the easy part. In fact, those around me found that I became much more aggressive and much more likely to treat a chat with friends as an opportunity to replay a parliamentary debate.

So what I needed from meeting was the quiet. It was the chance to reflect and take a break from the struggle, and in particular the oppositional mindset that goes with politics. Political debate is designed around one side rubbishing everything the other side says. But while certainty may appear to be a good place to argue from, it is not a good place from which to convince others. If you do not respect the person you are arguing with, then there is no real possibility of communication.

So it was important to be reminded that, when I disagreed with someone, however passionately, this was not (usually) because they were stupid, corrupt or ill-informed, but because of a genuine difference of opinion. Only by appreciating their point of view, concerns and issues could I hope to construct an argument that would make any connection let alone convince them.

This principle, of seeking out what there is that you can connect with in others, is of course central to Quaker tradition. Just as the ministry that I understand the least often turns out to be the most rewarding after consideration, learning to value the opinions of those I was disagreeing with made me reflect on how I operated as a politician.

Given the urgency of issues like climate change, while clever rhetoric might give me an adrenaline buzz and, on a good day, the satisfaction of having ‘beaten’ my opponent, it was unlikely to convince anyone – opposition politician, government minister or voter – unless it was based on respect for them.

Then, at the Scottish Parliament election three months ago, I wasn’t re-elected. The Greens lost ground due to a number of factors, including a surge of support for the SNP on a ‘time for a change from Labour’ ticket. After the initial disappointment and frustration at losing my seat just when I felt I was learning how to make the most effective use of my position, I am now beginning to value the opportunity I currently have for far deeper reflection than there was ever time or space for when I was an MSP.

One of the things I have been reflecting on is the Scots translation of 1 Corinthians 13 inscribed into the stone paving at the Royal Mile entrance to the Scottish Parliament:
“Gin I speak wi the tungs o men an angels, but hae nae luve I my hairt, I am no nane better nor dunnerin bress or ringing cymbal.”

There is no use being right, as I still believe we are on issues like climate change, nuclear weapons and trade justice, if you come across as self-righteous and lack respect for those whose views and lifestyles you seek to change.

If we are to turn faith into action, we must remember that our action must be based on love and respect. All too often in movements for peace, social justice and environmental protection we are so certain in our convictions and the power of our arguments that we fail to consider the effects our words will have on those who do not share our convictions.

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Talk at Quaker Summer Gathering on Prophetic Witness

Mark at Summer gatheringWhat is prophetic witness? A question I asked myself when I was invited to summer gathering, and other friends have asked me to explain when I said that this was our topic for this morning.

I found this (from quakerinfo.com) helpful:

“Environmentally minded Friends are coming to focus more and more on the two essential tasks of the prophet: first, to demonstrate, through their own deeds and lives, the possibilities for a greater righteousness that exist here in God’s world; and second, to recall the wrongdoers from their wrongdoings, as the prophet Nathan did with King David. For we have begun to see that such a reformation and redemption of the destroyers — meaning by “destroyers”, both ourselves and others — is the central business of God’s environmental movement.”

I think this sums up, in rather more portentous words than I would use, the role that I unexpectedly found myself in as a Green MSP.

But first, let me explain a bit more about my approach. There is a growing recognition that we are living unsustainably- that is using up the resources of the planet at rate far beyond the replacement rate. This what makes me an environmentalist. I believe that the solution to this is to share the resources we have better, which is what makes me a Green. All this is rooted in an understanding that goes beyond the survival of our species, or ‘stewardship’, but is based on the presence of the sprit within the wonder of creation – there is that of God in everything, as well as everyone, which would say makes me a green Quaker. So that’s my witness. I make no claim that all quakers should be green, anymore than all greens should be quakers but it’s what works for me

The experience of being a Green MSP was very different to my previous career as an environmental campaigner. In particular I wasn’t just appealing to my usual audience a self-selected group who are likely to be amenable to a message of “reformation and redemption” but to my entire electorate. Since I was elected as a top-up Member of the Scottish Parliament for the whole of Lothian region, including Edinburgh, this amounted to over 600,000 people. My new challenge was to find a way to move the widest audience possible, taking me way out of the comfort zone of the like-minded souls I had been engaging with before..

So what did I learn from being placed in this unexpected role of prophetic witness? Given that I was promoting in parliament a series of lifestyle choices, of modifying personal behavior, not just the behavior of the state or of industry, there was an expectation that I would be an exemplar of the lifestyle I advocated. I had always believed that, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi you should ‘be the change you want see in the world’ but suddenly becoming a public figure with intense scrutiny showed up the difficulties of this.

While ‘being the change’ is central to avoiding the worst sort of self-righteous hypocrisy, it cuts you off from the people you are seeking to change. Society is already changing so fast, things are already difficult and complication, who wants to add new layers of difficulty and complication? As one woman said to me at a hustings “So not only should I chose low-GI, low cholesterol food and eat my five portions a day, I should now worry about whether it is organic, fair-trade and local”. So it is easy for even a minor change in your own life to appear to be a change so radical, that there appears to be an impossible gulf between the life you advocate and the life they lead.

What always surprised me was that a lot of what I proposed didn’t seem like such huge changes. Car ownership and use is a good example – mass car ownership is a relatively recent development. In 1961 there were 6.2 million licensed cars in the UK. Forty years later the figure was 26.4 Million. People so quickly come to rely on their cars, that anyone who proposes even to slightly restrict the use of the car in the name of the climate is quickly branded a lunatic.

One of the big campaigns I was involved in was in support of a London-style congestion charge for Edinburgh. A campaign we lost overwhelmingly. When your local wholefood shop owner berates you in a fairly a hostile fashion for restricting his freedom to drive his car round Edinburgh you know you’ve lost people somewhere.

Now I had all my statistics, I could talk about climate change for hours on end. I even dressed up as a polar bear for a with a sign saying “polar bears say yes to congestion charging; no to climate change”. But I might as well have worn a sandwich board saying “repent, sinners, for the end of the world is nigh”. Intangibles, like climate change, or the life beyond, move only a small proportion of the population.

I failed to demonstrate that life without a car did not mean a return to sack-cloth and ashes. The purpose of the prophetic witness is to get others to change. While the Old Testament prophets could influence people thousands of years ago, their techniques can no longer be relied upon…

And the other big change from thousands of years ago is the arrival of the mass media. For the media, interesting coverage is debate and controversy, not consensus and agreement. So I found myself in the role of controversialist if I was to get coverage, campaign against this road or against this new bridge, or even explaining why foreign holidays are bad for the climate, and we should all spend our summers in sunny Scotland instead. Telling the truth, but not a particularly appealing truth.

So what is to be done – I see a critical gap between what inspires me – the experience of the divine in all creation, the massive threats of climate change, of nuclear annihilation on the one hand, and what actually motivates most people to change their lives. Sure, for some people climate change is an immediate concern. They will watch ‘an Inconvenient truth’ and be inspired to act.

But for most people Climate change is very big, very distant and completely invisible. It’s another thing to worry about, but simply trying to get on with life in an increasingly stressful world will take priority. Therefore to achieve change we must work on a level that is small, local and visible. We have the mystical experiences that inspire us, a concern for the whole of humanity, the whole of creation, but if this means we exclude those who haven’t had similar mystical experiences we will fail in our witness.

But I am now taking the opportunity to reflect on what Quaker traditions can do to help with this. I thought the thing that would help me the most as an MSP in Quakerism was the inspirational witness of other Quakers and the strength of purpose to keep fighting for what i believe in. What I actually found important was not finding the energy to keep up the struggle – I actually found that I became so addicted to the adrenaline rush that the fighting part was easy. Those around me found that I became much more aggressive, and much more likely to treat a chat with friends as an opportunity to replay a parliamentary debate. So what i needed from the Quaker tradition was the quiet. It was the chance to reflect and take a break from the struggle. In particular, to get away from the oppositional mindset of politics – everything your opponent says is complete tosh. But if you are trying to persuade people, this lack of respect is not a good place to start.

I really did start to wonder, as I knocked on peoples doors in my politicians smart suit, to hand out various green tracts, why I had ended up with this very Mormon style of evangelizing.?

So, any effective modern prophetic witness must start with respect, humility and practical action. You need start from this very Quakerly place, if you are to move the whole mass of the population, since everyone will have to alter the way they live if we are to avoid climate change. Rather than trying to scare people into action, I found we needed to point to the improvements in their own quality of life. Most of the steps needed to avoid climate change will have other more tangible benefits. Concentrating on these benefits, rather than branding everything as ‘stopping climate change’ seems to be much more successful.

The need for prophetic witness is probably greater than it has ever been. But for faith to give rise to effective action, it must be based on a respect for those whose lives you seek to change.

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Martin Luther King on reconciliation

MLK My reading at Quaker Summer Gathering

“Nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister must often express his protest through noncooperation or boycotts, but he realizes that noncooperation and boycotts are not ends themselves; they are merely means to awaken a sense of moral shame in the opponent. The end is redemption and reconciliation. The aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the beloved community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.”

“This method is that the attack is directed against forces of evil rather than against persons who are caught in those forces. It is evil we are seeking to defeat, not the persons victimized by evil. Those of us who struggle against racial injustice must come to see that the basic tension is not between races. As I like to say to the people in Montgomery: The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people. The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And if there is a victory, it will be a victory not merely for fifty thousand Negroes, but a victory for justice and the forces of light. We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.”

Martin Luther King, 1957

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