Remarks from Mr. Don Gwillim, Co-Founder of Christian Vegetarian Association UK
We appreciate Mr. Gwillim's kind permission to reprint his remarks below, for the upcoming occasion of Crisis to Peace European Seminar on Oct 30. Mr. Gwillim couldn't attend in person due to conflict, yet his reflecting words surely touched our heart.
Christian Vegetarian Association in UK would like to assure you that you have our full support for any actions you may take in the future, especially meetings/marches/sit-ins etc you may have in the UK.
Our message is so important that I believe the time is coming when we must consider taking a leaf out of Gandhi's and Martin Luther King's book and consider 'direct action'. By co-incidence (or was it) I came across the following in a book I was reading this morning:
In his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," King explains to fellow clergymen why he has organized marches and sit-ins and other protests that "disturbed the peace":
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Non violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.
He explains that while he opposes violent tension, he believes there is "a type of constructive, non violent tension which is necessary for growth":
Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for non violent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism (specieism) to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.
He concludes this portion of the letter by explaining that the purpose of the protests is "to create a situation so crisis- packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation."'
The peace that he disturbed was no peace, but instead a quiet but ruthless oppression of blacks ( Animals). And the Birmingham clergy, as much as the rest of the city's established order, were guilty of maintaining an unhealthy, sinful control over that order. A crisis needed to be created that not only exposed the oppression but also cast a beam of light that pointed to liberation, in this case, "the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood."
This could be a message for the seminar.
My thoughts and prayers will be with you this week-end, and for a successful conclusion to your discussions.