Be the ChangeSoul Force Politics
“Let your motto be Resistance! Resistance! Resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.”-- Minister Henry Highland Garnet, who liberated himself from slavery in Maryland, from his Call to Rebellion Speech 1843
Yes, it is time for us to resist.
Our progress towards social justice is being threatened at every level. But we must be smart and nimble about our approach; well-trained and organized; inclusive and imaginative. And it’s also time for us to find a level of comfort mixing in the notion of our highest selves – our Soul Force – with our civic advocacy if we want to make truly transformational shifts possible.
We are programmed by our culture to believe that all of our efforts at community and social change are reliant on external actions alone. I invite you to embrace a somewhat radical proposition: that creating the world we wish to manifest begins with an internal shift in possibilities. Only when we have mastered the art of examining our conscience, raising our awareness and observation skills, and bringing the wisdom, strength, and clarity of our soul force into our civic actions, are we truly able to affect deep and lasting catalytic change.
We know in our core that the civics game we have been playing has not worked for a very long time.
At MizMaryland, we are throwing out the tired political playbooks and establishment rules. We are teaching a new way of engagement. Or perhaps we are just breathing new life into a very old and ancient way that has been forgotten. Welcome to Soul Force Politics.
To be clear, this is not religious work, though we honor the wisdom of many faith traditions and their inspirational and prophetic leaders – from Jesus Christ and Moses, to Buddha and Mohammad, from Confucius and Laozi or to the Great Spirit and Mother Earth herself.
And while we are political – engaged in public life –MizMaryland is not strictly ideological or an adherent to a specific political party that wants to divide communities into “Us” versus “Them” factions.
The work of Soul Force Politics is to blend the calling of social justice action with the insights of consciousness -encouraging us to Be The Change.
The Masters Before Us
Nobel Peace Prize, India Independence Leader
Known the world over for his successful use of non-violent resistance to create social change in India, Gandhi coined the term, “Satyagraha,” to describe his approach.
Satya is a sanskrit word that means “truth,” while agrah means insistence,” Satyagraha’s translation is “Soul Force.”
“Satyagraha is the weapon of the strong. It admits of no violence under any circumstances whatsoever, and it ever insists upon truth. Its foundation is empathy and compassion. The Satyagrahi’s object is to convert, not coerce the wrongdoer.”
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR
Nobel Peace Prize, Civil Rights Leader
King adopted these same principles to govern the civil rights movement he led in the 1960’s in the United States. He also spoke of Soul Force.
In his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, he said:
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to denigrate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with Soul Force.”
On her Underground Railroad missions, abolitionist and freedom fighter Harriet Tubman relied on her faith, her intellect, and her deep intuitive skills to guide her through the most perilous situations.
“Tubman’s faith anchored her. Alone in the woods at night, Tubman was comforted by what she called a ‘Mysterious Unseen Presence.’ She used her intuition and knowledge of the human and physical landscape to protect herself. Facing danger and uncertainty, she believed [that unseen mysterious force] would show her the way.”
Museum installation at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park in Church Creek, Maryland
Nobel Peace Prize, Anti-apartheid Revolutionary
In South Africa, after twenty-eight years of imprisonment for leading the non-violent resistance against his country’s oppression of the black majority, Nelson Mandela was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for his work to bring about the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime and for laying the foundations for a new, democratic South Africa. Carrying no bitterness from his harsh experience, Mandela became known throughout the world as a moral authority on what could be described as the strength of Soul Force:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Founding Father, Patriot
Even our nation’s first President recognized the importance of Soul Force in making a new democracy work:
“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”
President Washington also cautioned against our nation’s formation of political parties that would divide us. And a fun fact from right here in Chestertown: Washington College (the 10th oldest in America, the first college chartered in the new nation, and the only school that bears his name in which Washington actually had a governing role) was founded on this revolutionary idea – to educate responsible citizens; to educate leaders who could make the young democracy work.
We want to educate responsible citizens on the pillars of non-violent resistance, honorable leadership, and successful civic action for a vibrant democracy.
We live in very challenging times.