Granny D and the politics of nonviolence
October 12, 2005
Doris "Granny D" Haddock gave a rousing speech at Orchard House in Concord, MA last week. It's way too long to post here, so let me leave you with the following excerpt, and nudge you really hard to go read the rest of it:
The political issues that divide the American people are great issues, with severe consequences for the moral life of the nation and the fate of the planet. These are issues equal to the issues that divided us in 1860, and we should fear the historical similarities.
In some ways the conflict of the Civil War was not resolved, but rather accommodated, in the same way that smoldering coals under ashes are but a fire asked to bide its time. Do not the sparks now swirl up fresh? Is the heat and danger we feel not the old conflict between those who believe that authority comes from above: from an Old Testament God, delivered through husbands, presidents, preachers, ayatollahs and plantation overseers to people arranged in layers according to their worth--is it not a conflict between those authoritarians and those others who instead believe that all men are created equal, and that the authority to govern issues forth from them, upward to their government--their common vessel of community--and not downward? Is this not the divide of 1860 and also of our own time?
... Those in the clan of authority are not given the privilege--the natural right--of living their own lives. They do as they are told, say and think what they are told. Smothered is their curiosity and their healthy skepticism, and also their imagination, joy, freedom, and lust for life itself. When they see others actually living lives, they react with anger, as if someone had cut to the front of a line that, for them, never moves.
What is the proof of this theory? Those enthrall to authority, cowering under it, lose sight of their own lives. They will venerate above all else the symbol of the yet unruined potential of life: the curled-up unborn. The authority clan will have the image of an unborn baby as its flag, and they will claim to honor and defend innocent life, but that will be a great lie to themselves. For they will not be the ones to demand DNA testing of all prisoners on death row; they will not be the ones to demand health insurance for all children, or better nutrition in all schools, or peaceful alternatives to international conflicts. They will be the ones to rail against these things, for the authority clan parades itself as pro-life while it is truly more like a cult of death. Having died themselves, strangled by authority and fear, they cannot wish happy lives for others--they cling only to that magic symbol of what might have been. They relate to the unborn baby selfishly; it is themselves: unborn, unlived, still hoping for a life.