Getting to Good

Anti-BP sign, Coney Island Mermaid parade. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Author: R. M. Calamar

By Kathie MM

In a response to my recent post  honoring Gene Sharpe for his long commitment to nonviolent opposition to dictatorial regimes,

Ed Agro commented, “the prescriptions are of little help in the next step: once the struggle is “over” – when the dictator is deposed, or the social malaise is evident to everyone – how do we actually form a government or social order that builds upon the struggle?

Good question.

In a brief (eight minute) Ted Talk   Jamila Raqib, one of Sharpe’s disciples, provides some insight into the problem. She explains, powerfully, that

*Nonviolence won’t accomplish much as a moral philosophy; it needs to be a tool, a program of action.

*Nonviolence has proven its effectiveness over the centuries; for example, most of the rights that women and people of color currently have in this country were gained through nonviolent action.

*It’s not enough just to protest against the misuse of power; the sources of that power must be identified and overwhelmed with nonviolent tactics—for example economic power can be weakened through massive general strikes; government-controlled propagnda can be combatted by alternative media.

*To be successful, nonviolent struggle needs to organize and coordinate acts of resistance within the context of strategic planning. It needs clear objectives, and carefully thought-out plans regarding how to achieve them.

Listening to Jamila’s inspiring speech, I decided I would like to see, at peace and social justice rallies, fewer general slogans and more specific recommendations for action.

Philosophically, “Make peace, not war” is a great feel-good mantra, but it doesn’t provide much guidance for anti-war activists.

Ban the bomb” may be a step in the right direction, but wouldn’t the following be better:

“Call/write Congress!                                                                                              

  Tell them Heed the UN.

Ban the bomb!”

For examples of some other action-oriented signs, see here

and here and here .

And then please:

Engage in Peace Action!

Assume your objective is to:

End racism!

What specific steps could you recommend?

 Submit your peace and social justice action slogans to



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5 Responses to Getting to Good

  1. barbara says:

    I passionately agree with this stunning equation: No Truth plus No Justice equals No America, a terrible state of affairs, indeed. We must all put our best foot forward and support any march that advocates what is morally right and fair.

  2. a friend says:

    Words from signs and teeshirts at today’s demonstration on Boston Common, August 19, 2017

    If only people of the world could keep their flavors and hold tight to each other like life savers.

    White supremacy is terrorism

    Love is action

    Silence is consent

    Tolerance of intolerance is intolerable

    Equality hurts no one

    Lost in 1865; lost in 1945; loses in 2017

    Your silence will not protect you

    Community is stronger than hate

    Things must be bad if a straight white guy makes a sign

    If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the melting pot.

    I’m no longer accepting what I can’t change. I am changing what I can’t accept.

    New flash: the Nazis lost and you will lose.

    We go high

    Don’t pretend that racism is patriotism

    Witches against hate

    Free hugs

    Black Lives Matter

    Say your piece and leave

    (Several signs in several languages)

  3. This is a very useful post. It give me pause, as I am guilty of holding signs that say things like “Climate Change is Real” rather than “Save the EPA.” My current sign says “Peace, too, takes courage.” (If anyone knows the source of that saying, please tell me.) Perhaps it should say “Negotiate, don’t escalate.” (I would also like the source of that phrase.)

  4. Pingback: Getting to Better Signs | Engaging Peace

  5. Pingback: Patriotism Embraces Nonviolence in the NFL | Engaging Peace

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