38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
"Its difficult advice and in some quarters it isn't too popular to say it...Let us recognize that violence is not the answer. I must say to you tonight that violence is impractical...We have another method that is much more powerful and much more effective than the weapon of violence...Hate isn't our weapon either...I am not talking now about a weak love it would be nonsense for an oppressed people to love their oppressor in an affectionate sense I'm not talking about that too many people confuse the meaning of love when they go to criticizing the love ethic. ...I am talking about a love that is so strong that it becomes a demanding love. A love that is so strong that it organizes itself into a mass movement and says somehow I am my brothers keeper and he is so wrong that I am willing to suffer and die to get him right and to see that he is on the wrong road."
Mohandas Gandhi observed that "To answer brutality with brutality is to admit to one’s moral and intellectual bankruptcy and it can only start a vicious cycle." It is not only the history of Cuba in the 20th century that demonstrates the truth of that statement but of the world in general.
It was said that the First World War, that started a hundred years ago on July 28, 1914 and ended in 1918 with more than 16 million dead, was to make the world safe for democracy and that it would be the war to end all wars. Instead it ended up with the creation of the first communist state in Russia and with the humiliation of Germany gave rise to Nazism. Twenty one years later the Second World War started with more than 50 million dead. It ended with the United States using two nuclear arms over civilian population centers in Japan. In the long run violence can lead to the end of human life on the planet. It does not work.
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas understood this.
|Teach-in on Nonviolence at St. Brendan's Catholic Church|
We have not chosen the path of peace as a tactic, but because it is inseparable from the goal for which our people are striving. Experience teaches us that violence begets more violence and that when political change is brought about by such means, new forms of oppression and injustice arise. It is our wish that violence and force should never be used as ways of overcoming crises or toppling unjust governments. This time we shall bring about change by means of this civic movement which is already opening a new chapter in Cuba’s history, in which dialogue, democratic involvement, and solidarity will prevail. In such a way we shall foster genuine peace.
- Brothers to the Rescue was a grassroots movement founded in May 1991 in response to the death of a fifteen year old named Gregorio Pérez Ricardo who had died fleeing Cuba on a raft only to die of exposure and dehydration. The movement was funded by the community through donations in order to carry out a nonviolent constructive program saving the lives of Cuban rafters before they died of dehydration or starvation on the high seas in small rafts. Brothers to the Rescue actively collaborated with both The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia and Gene Sharp of the Albert Einstein Institution. Brothers to the Rescue conducted more than 2,400 aerial search missions. These resulted in the rescue of more than 4,200 men, women and children ranging in age from a five day old infant to a man 79 years of age.
- The Democracy Movement was founded in 1995 following the July 13, 1995 13-boat flotilla that paid tribute to 37 men, women and children massacred on the "13 de Marzo" tugboat by Cuban government agents a year earlier on July 13, 1994. Over the past 20 years it has carried flotillas, hunger strikes, and demonstrations in a obstructive program of civil disobedience challenging injustices not only in Cuba but in the Bahamas and the United States as well.
I want to conclude quoting Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas from the same speech of 2002 in Strasbourg mentioned earlier:
"The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: ‘You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear. I do not wish to impose my truth, nor do I wish you to impose yours on me. We are going to seek the truth together’. This is the liberation which we are proclaiming."
One should not underestimate the importance of not having one's heart filled with hatred.