This past weekend there was a nightmare brewing in Nevada over what some could understandably consider government sanctioned cattle rustling. As is always the case, confrontation against an out of control government can go many directions, sometimes ending in bloodshed, as we saw in our own state 50 years ago. People who are exercising their right to assemble, protest, petition and seek redress of grievances can get full of themselves. I can speak to this with boldness as someone who long ago tried to shut down Wright Patterson Air Force Base in protest to the war in Vietnam. I also tried to shut down the Cleveland County Courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio, and watched with horror and betrayal as the Students for a Democratic Society infiltrated our demonstration and tried to turn it violent.
For the purpose of this article, I am not going to bring in the role of the Chinese, windmill farms, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the UN, the 2nd Amendment, the sovereignty of states, the militia, the snipers that were hunkered down up in the hills, or any other piece of the puzzle that might make this op-ed “pop.” Suffice it to say that the weekend confrontation looked like it was going to reach a tipping point that would have descended into a violence that was not wanted at all by the Bundy family. I believe that there was divine intervention that kept it from going that way. And, as someone who strongly believes in the right to bear arms, I want to make it clear that I pray I am never in a position where I have to exercise that right.
Instead, I am going to discuss what I considered to be a divine personal “woodshed” experience where I was reminded of the need to cling anew to the things taught us by our Savior. In its pain it seemed all the more poignant as this is the week we celebrate Passover and the Resurrection.
50 years ago, as the Civil Rights Movement was cresting, Martin Luther King, Jr. insisted that anyone who marched with him sign the pledge written below. In addition, the captains of the groups who were in demonstrations or a part of Freedom Summer in 1964 were strongly admonished to be on the lookout for infiltrators who had a different agenda, one not based in love.
Here is the Pledge of Non-Violence:
1. As you prepare to march, meditate on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Remember the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory.
3. Walk and talk in the manner of love; for God is love.
4. Pray daily to be used by God that all men and women might be free.
5. Sacrifice personal wishes that all might be free.
6. Observe with friend and foes the ordinary rules of courtesy.
7. Perform regular service for others and the world.
8. Refrain from violence of fist, tongue, and heart.
9. Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
10. Follow the directions of the movement leaders and of the captains on demonstrations.
Recently I found myself in a situation where I was publically humiliated, and afterward I spent a good portion of the night seeking God. I was sad and mad, and yet wanting so desperately to make my Savior smile. I wasn’t content with just holding my tongue, which is certainly better than losing it. Rather, I wanted to tap into that utterly undoing source of unconditional love that I have powerfully experienced while encountering those in days gone by who fiercely attacked me verbally or threatened my life. All day long while putting the paper together I was still struggling, and then I came upon these points. All of them rang true, but there was one that straight up smacked me: Remember the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation – not victory. That was where I tripped up. I wanted victory more than reconciliation or true justice. And then I remembered that it is precisely because of what happened this week over 2,000 years ago that I have hope for deep inward change, and my desire is that this holiday your hope is renewed as well.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner