After three intense hours at a rally for white supremacy in Gainesville, Florida, three simple words “I don’t know” rang out with power. Aaron Courtney, who is black, stood across the lines from Randy Fourniss, whose attitude was proclaimed by the swastikas on his body and clothing. For three hours Courtney stayed with Fourniss, trying to reach him. He even tried to hug him, three times. Fourniss barely looked at him, much less let himself be embraced. That is, until the third try. Finally, Fourniss and Courtney embraced each other, and Courtney, in tears, felt the time had come to ask, “Why do you hate me?” Fourniss didn’t have an answer. Or rather he had the perfect answer: “I don’t know.”
Imagine how scary, and how painful it must have been for Courtney to stay at a white supremacy rally for three hours. To even be there in the first place. And what it must have taken for Fourniss to admit that he had no rational basis for his hatred. That’s the measure of how effective Courtney was with his commitment to nonviolent discipline.
It is a story of courage, dedication, steadfastness in love, and a willingness to hold up a higher image of who we are to one another. No wonder Arabic speakers call nonviolence ‘sumud,’ ‘persistence, or endurance,’ and Latin Americans talk about ‘firmeza permanente.’ We get to see examples of this every day, the world over. These are the kind of real-life stories that need to
be told, shared person-to-person, and group-to-group, because this is who we really are. We need to be reminded of that. We need to remind each other every single day! It’s that tough out there for all of us.
Perhaps this is why, even in the midst of a growing sense of demoralization in our political and socio-economic climate, we maintain an unshakeable faith in the vision of a more just, humane, and nonviolent world: because we see it in action. Every single day. Each of these victories is a victory for nonviolence everywhere. For you. For everyone.
We believe the Metta Center has a unique ability to build upon these stories and draw out their lessons for individuals, groups, and movements, to help us all learn to use the unmatched power of nonviolence in our own lives. We share a larger, almost untold story that is unfolding in our midst, from the science that supports the power of nonviolence in our human nature, to its
strategic import, its history and vast potential—developing and drawing out the simple but powerful tools of nonviolent action. And we’re working with dedicated, courageous, and sincere people all around our beautiful world.
You are one of them.
If you’d like a glimpse of our exciting plans for the next three years (or one hundred!), have a look at www.mettacenter.org/plans2018. We will need your help and support as we move forward, full-steam ahead, to realize those plans.
We are incredibly proud to be your home and support system for your practice of nonviolence—in whatever ways you are called to share it with the world around you. We’re in this work together.
In heart unity,
Michael Nagler on behalf of the Metta Center Team
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