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To Make Change


By Sean C. Bowers


Someone recently rose in our silent Quaker Meeting and spoke about the difficulty of doing the right thing, versus playing it safe and later having regrets.

Promoting peace was one of the issues mentioned. Taking a public stand for non-violence has come in many forms, but none more powerful than that of the heavyweight champion boxer, Mohammed Ali, who stood against the Vietnam War and was subsequently stripped of his title. One man of extremely high visibility forced an entire nation and the world to look directly down the gun barrel at just whom they were killing.


The Quaker speaker mentioned tackling injustice, which instantly took me to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s repeated works—feats of non-violent objection. Dr. King also forced America and the world, to fully see the racist south, naked. Dr. King has stood the test of time for all the poor and oppressed. Sometimes he would use his speaking gift, his Biblical knowledge or his dreams. Other times, he let the grainy black and white television images, speak for themselves. Dr. King spoke of having something worth dying for, as truly living.


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Other visionaries have used music. Bob Marley defied racism in songs that became a musical genre and then a movement which paralleled the underpinnings of South Africa’s Apartheid movement. Marley’s music rang true world-wide, bringing all different types of people together, in the rhythm’s peace.

Still others, like Gandhi, used the only simplistic tool at their disposal; Gandhi used his body in hunger strikes for the basic human rights of his people. He used the ocean to make salt to make a point.


Each of these people was blessed with special gifts and a common understanding like vision to see another better way that they then articulated for the rest of us to follow. These men and some woman, like Mother Theresa and Susan B. Anthony, made us re-examine all we thought that we knew. They were ahead of their time, forcing time to bend through the power of grace.


Gracefully and skillfully each harnessed the separate “You’s,” “I’s” and “Me’s” into the all convincing collective power of the people, “We.” Each used and maximized their gifts as spotlights focusing on evil, until none could look away, deny or any longer obstruct justice.


This brings me back to the Quakers, who helped found the Underground Railroad in the South to eventually defeat slavery. They, long before it was accepted, saw all people as equal and important. Their stands, back in their time was their hearts, minds, wills and their resources, their lands.

As we ask ourselves today what we are doing with our gifts to help others, it becomes crystal clear. We are all blessed with our own skills, talents and abilities to be used, to protect and uplift, the abused.

We must have the courage and confidence to take our stands in our time against the oppressors, no matter how large, powerful, great, rich or close. No matter the risks to us, our material wealth or our personal safety, nothing can be stronger than our faith’s guidance for inner and external peace. We are all non-violent warriors whose weapons are song, art and poetry’s convictions.

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Our choice is a simple one, stand and be counted; stand and make our positions known; stand proudly proclaiming that we are the instruments of change. We, by our very beings are our brother’s keeper and helper. It is by our refusal to tolerate intolerance and by digging into our deepest spiritual pockets, that we each can make, change, happen.


Sean C. Bowers is a local progressive youth development coach, author and poet, who has written for the New Journal and Guide the last twelve years. His recent book of over 120 NJ&G articles detailing the issues is available at V1ZUAL1ZE.ORG or #333-3029 and he does do large scale solutions presentations.


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