Challenging the belief that only violence is newsworthy.
Hold the Line: A guide to defending democracy
“What they’re most scared of is mass noncooperation. And when mass noncooperation is organized and strategic and targeted well, it has shown again and again that it can protect democracy and challenge authoritarianism.” – Hardy Merriman
How can we defend and support our democracy, which feels so vulnerable as we head into this election? What are some concrete actions that we — even those of us who are non-experts and non-activists — can take to strengthen ourselves and empower each other to choose the next president fairly? This week, Nonviolence Radio explores these questions and others with Hardy Merriman, president and CEO of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and coauthor of Hold the Line: A guide to defending democracy.
Based on almost two decades in the field, Hardy uses his experience to offer us concrete, practical advice about just what we can do now to stand up for our Constitution and protect the principles it rests upon. “What I’m telling people” Hardy says, “is that, when we think about what might Trump do or what might his allies do, that’s speculation. The real question in the next 20 days is: what can we do?” And in fact, there is quite a lot.
We need not be overwhelmed, we can bring about change if we learn some basic tools of nonviolence that have been proven to be effective, time and again, both here and abroad. Working together, we can ‘hold the line’ and ensure that the upcoming election reflects true democracy.
How to Prevent A Political Coup
Professor Josef Woldense, University of Minnesota
This week, in addition to Michael Nagler’s Nonviolence Report, Stephanie shares an interview with Josef Woldense, assistant professor in the Department of Africa Studies and African American Studies at the University of Minnesota, also affiliated with the Political Science Department. Professor Woldense analyzes the lack of trust that characterizes authoritarian regimes, and the way it makes a leader vulnerable to a coup: the authoritarian may hold the power, but in exchange he/she can trust no one, thus mutiny is a constant threat. A strategy used by authoritarian rulers to protect themselves from mutinous coups he calls “shuffling.”
Shuffling, Professor Woldense explains, is best thought of as “a technology. What it does is it recognizes that the fuel for cliques to form is people being in close proximity to each other, having an opportunity to get to know each other. Shuffling disrupts that process: as people are getting to know each other, but before that relationship matures, what you do is you divorce people from one another by essentially having them move into different parts of the regime. They’re still part of the government, but they never get a chance to get too close to each other.”
While this may help to solve the clique/coup problem, it also seems inevitably to preclude the possibility of experts — no one has time to acquire the experience needed to be competent in any government role! Thus shuffling tends to undermine the aim of a well-run regime.
Professor Woldense explores these issues in their own right and also shares the way he explains this complex dynamic to his students through a role-playing game that places each one in a position where action must be taken despite the fact that information is limited.
Author Sumbul Ali-Karamali comes to Nonviolence Radio this week to talk about her latest book, Demystifying Shariah: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It’s Not Taking Over Our Country. Together she, Stephanie and Michael discuss the true meaning and rich history of Shariah, a term which is often profoundly misunderstood and misportrayed in mainstream media. Far from being a rigid set of religious rules which violently challenge our most basic human rights, Sumbul Ali-Karamali reveals Shariah to be a source of compassionate guidelines to be continually interpreted and reinterpreted, an evolving understanding of Islam itself, which is “meant to be flexible and adaptable according to culture and time.”
Conspiracy memes as a Public Health Crisis?
“The Cave” Synagogue at the Kotel Wailing Western wall Jerusalem, Israel.
Professor Ron Hirschbein, founder of the War and Peace Studies Program and the Peace Institute at Cal State Chico and Professor Amin Asfari from Wake Tech College join Michael to talk about the motives and drives that generate conspiracy theories.
What are some of the deeper causes that lie behind recent attacks on Jewish and Muslim communities? How might the internet galvanize individuals to commit violence against “others” in a way that traditional media did not?
Together, Amin, Ron and Michael consider the powerful (and often destructive) desire for fame and recognition, the parallels between COVID and conspiracy theories, the search for life’s meaning and the insidious objects of addiction.
Toward an Earth-Based Economy
Renowned activist Winona LaDuke reflects on the power of an earth-based economics in a moment on our planet that is known in indigenous circles as ‘the time of the seventh fire.’ She asks the question, what are YOU going to do right now to heal our relationships with life, and are you going to choose the path of regeneration or destruction. Her talk comes to us from the organization, Slow Money.
In part 2 of the show, we hear about how kids defy their parents by wearing masks, how basketball players show up in solidarity for Black lives, and how a leader clinging to power and position for 25-years in Belarus is on his way out, all in the Nonviolence Report with Michael Nagler.
Courageous Conversations & Actions
Photo from the Reparations Procession via GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rp2020
“If racism is a way of life for some; activism has to be the way of life for the rest of us.” ~Amisha Harding.
We talk with Atlanta-based activist Amisha Harding about transforming grief and trauma with connection and nonviolent action and her organization, Courageous Conversations for the Collective. Then we hear from two participants of the Reparations Procession taking place in the East Bay, Oakland, California with information about what and who it is for, and how you can get involved in reparations work.
Want more? Michael Nagler’s Nonviolence Report for July 31, 2020 is here.
Extra show resources:
Courageous Conversations For the Collective
Go Fund Me Page
Instagram: @reparationsprocessionFacebook: @reparationsprocessionTwitter: @rp40days#reparationsprocession
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Thoughts on the podcast
I really enjoy the guests and interesting stories discussed on the show. I haven’t found a podcast like this. It is informative and educational.
One of my favorite podcasts!
A friend of mine told me about the Metta Center and I found this podcast through their website. I've listened to several episodes. The hosts are knowledgeable and engaging and the content is insightful and inspiring. They often have good guests who add great perspectives and knowledge to the conversation. Every time I listen learn something valuable and I feel more empowered to make a difference in the world through nonviolent action. This is an excellent show and it holds a place of honor among my subscriptions.