Creating the Nonviolent Peace Force

Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency makes me feel as though a group of aliens

David in Russia

from another planet have moved in and taken over the US government. How did a person with values so completely antithetical to ours assume this powerful office? Why didn’t we see this coming?

It may be a long road back to sanity; we need all the help we can get to find the way. David Hartsough’s new book, Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist, can, I think, help us address these questions. It suggests ways to mobilize ourselves, particularly in the context of increasing violence and what Tikkun calls “the Left’s religiophobia.”

Tikkun argues that the Right has succeeded in portraying liberals, progressives, and others of the Left as elitists who exhibit contempt for ordinary Americans and their values, including their religious values. When these “ordinary” folk interact  with people who hold leftist views, they are often met with  extreme disdain for anything spiritual or religious. Many studies, however — like those from the Pew Research Center — show that a substantial proportion of Americans feel positive toward religion, or are becoming more favorable toward it. Religious Americans  feel that leftists view  them as unenlightened, uneducated, or just plain stupid. This attitude — which is so widespread among leftists — can be called Leftist religiophobia.

The Left’s current approach toward religion, I believe, is one of the factors inhibiting the building of a large progressive movement for change. When a substantial portion of the American populace feels that leftists see them as stupid, they are not going to welcome the progressive views or analyses of those same leftists, vote for Left-leaning political candidates, or join progressive movements. “Come and join us, even though you’re prejudiced and simple-minded,” is not a great recruiting pitch.

However, there are progressive individuals and groups on the left who —without softening their social, economic, and political radicalism —don’t shy away from religious or spiritual language. Tikkun, of course, is one of them, as are  Sojourners and the Shalom Center, to mention but three of the groups who are not reticent to make public their religious or  spiritual underpinnings.

The text above was just an excerpt. The web versions of our print articles are now hosted by Duke University Press, Tikkun’s publisher. Click here to read an HTML version of the article or to download the PDF version.

Tikkun 2017 Volume 32, Number 4:68-72


Comments are closed.