What's happening in Canada is anything but peaceful
I posted yesterday in my weekly newsletter about the “opposite-of-freedom” convoy taking over major cities in Canada. Later that day, our Prime Minister announced that he was enacting the Emergencies Act to deal with the truckers protesting across the country.
To give you a sense of how serious this Emergencies Act is – it’s only been invoked 3 times in Canadian history, and two of those were during the World Wars (when it was then called the War Measures Act).
What does it say about a supposedly “peaceful protest” that was marketed as something to protect the freedoms and rights of Canadians, but ends up invoking an act of law that was meant to deal with wars?
You may or may not agree with the government taking this severe action to deal with a democratic protest, and there is certainly room for debate about the ethics and “slippery slope” of such an act.
But after I took the Racial Equity training provided the Selma Center, and learned the principles of Nonviolence championed by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. (“MLK Jr.”), it gives me a better foundation to assess what the truckers are doing, and how aligned their actions are with actual peaceful protest.
A single blog post is not going to do justice to these events, but I’m going to try and contrast what true Nonviolent action looks like under Gandhi and MLK Jr., vs. what the truckers have been doing in Ottawa, Windsor and beyond.
Examples of Nonviolent Action that Led to Real Social Change, in Contrast to the Violence of the Ottawa Occupation
Gandhi threatened to disrupt the Indian economy by stopping the British monopoly over salt production, which would give Indian people more affordable access to a basic necessity that was being unjustly withheld and taxed by the colonizers.
The truckers are actually disrupting the Canadian and U.S. economy by blocking border crossings and forcing Ottawa stores to close for self-protection. Car manufacturers have had to cut production and send workers home. The Ambassador Bridge blockades alone had a $3 Billion economic impact.
Gandhi and MLK Jr. represented and spoke for the majority of their respective people groups.
The protesting truckers do not represent the majority of Canadian truckers. “’Even 90% of Canadian truckers are already vaccinated,’ says the Canadian Trucking Alliance, which has disavowed the drivers involved in the Freedom Convoy protests.”
Gandhi and MLK Jr.’s actions were supported by the majority of their respective communities.
The trucker convoys are publicly supported by Donald J. Trump, Ted Cruz, Elon Musk, and other U.S. politicians. Whereas “Almost 75% of Canadians want truckers to ‘go home now’”.
Gandhi and MLK Jr.’s actions benefitted the most marginalized, oppressed, and powerless people in their communities.
In nonviolent action, black protestors put themselves in harm’s way through sit-ins in whites-only restaurants, movie theatres, etc. They also quietly boycotted white-owned businesses to reduce their revenue.
The truckers blocked roads in residential areas, caused mental distress by incessant horn honking, attacked local residents, defected and urinated on war memorials, hijacked food from homeless shelters – and more.
The truckers can say they care about all Canadians and that they’re fighting for all our freedoms, all they want.
What they’re actually doing is harassing and terrorizing people who have had their freedom and well-being violently taken away. And we’ve been paying for that with our freedom, mental health, economic health, and tax dollars.
For training and resources on Nonviolence, truth and reconciliation, I highly recommend the Selma Center. Here is a high-level summary of the Six Principles of Nonviolence from their Racial Equity training:
Principle One: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice, and utilizes the righteous indignation and the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual capabilities of people as the vital force for change and reconciliation.
Principle Two: The Beloved Community is the framework for the future.
The nonviolent concept is an overall effort to achieve a reconciled world by raising the level of relationships among people to a height where justice prevails, and persons attain their full human potential.
Principle Three: Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil.
The nonviolent approach helps one analyze the fundamental conditions, policies and practices of the conflict rather than reacting to one’s opponents or their personalities.
Principle Four: Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal.
Self-chosen suffering is redemptive and helps the movement grow in a spiritual as well as a
humanitarian dimension. The moral authority of voluntary suffering for a goal communicates the concern to one’s own friends and community as well as to the opponent.
Principle Five: Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence.
The nonviolent attitude permeates all aspects of the campaign. It provides mirror type reflection of the reality of the condition to one’s opponent and the community at large. Specific activities must be designed to help maintain a high level of spirit and morale during a nonviolent campaign.
Principle Six: The universe is on the side of justice.
Truth is universal and human society and each human being is oriented to the just sense of order of the universe. The fundamental values in all of the world’s great religions include the concept that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. For the nonviolent practitioner, nonviolence introduces a new moral context in which nonviolence is both the means and the end.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.