Monday, February 1, 2010

Tony's Blog: Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that

I have been mourning the lack of civil discourse lately and thinking about how our political process risks turning us into a nation of verbally violent people. People sitting at traditional seats of power at our highest levels of government sew hatred in order to incite the masses so that a political party can win some kind of advantage. They use fear to turn the gullible masses into tea bagger crowds demonizing and labeling their rivals.

Young people learn about power from adults. So, how can we sit in judgment of them as they form gangs and toss epithets at their rivals. Power without conscience is their cultural heritage if they look to the greater culture. So they take it to extremes. Their other alternative is to reject it altogether and check out in hundreds of different ways (apathy, cutting, mind-numbing drugs, alcohol, etc.).

Griselda, our beautiful young intern at YMC, attended a "Non-Violence Training" over the weekend and came back to tell me of people fighting for the same cause but fighting with each other in the process. "They were disagreeing on so many levels with such animosity towards each other that the whole thing turned me off." She described heated arguments over non-violent tactics ranging from total passivity to militantly taking it to the streets. She was looking for a different kind of imagination. There is a Buddhist concept of non-violent language which states that any language that divides us is violent.

Dr. Martin Luther King said: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

What if adults were to exercise power with love and respect, honoring even those that disagree with us? I happen to like (peaceful) protests, but I have learned that what we need more is mentoring. Where are the elders who will cultivate a different kind of wisdom in our lives and offer it as an alternative example for the youth? I know that I have the privilege of working with many of them, hundreds of mentors, as well as our amazing staff at Youth Mentoring Connection. They number thousands of adults who have come into the lives of young people to try to create a different reality--one where respect and consideration replace judgment and blame.

yours in peace,


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