Peaceful Resistance is Rising and More is On the Way

Earlier this month I was arrested at Nationals Stadium with a group of 7 other young climate activists, as we blockaded and interrupted the annual Congressional Baseball game, sponsored by Chevron-–a corporation notorious for its ecological destruction.

Choosing to live the practice of Peaceful Resistance, we leaped onto the baseball field as we felt this was the most powerful way to wake up Congress to their responsibility to ensure we have a liveable future.  The game was interrupted as we were violently pummeled to the ground, arrested, and then escorted out. We were then held for the next 21 hours, in 3 different facilities.  In a traumatizing detainment, we also witnessed the degrading treatment of mostly black and brown prisoners trapped in the mass incarceration system. To endure the horrid cockroach-infested D.C. jail system, we responded by building a beloved community.  

I was touched by the brave young activists who are leading the demand for revolutionary transformation.  They inspire me to take every possible action that I can to ensure a livable future for all of us, our children, and future generations.  We all agree that we could no longer stay silent while Congress is literally playing games with all of our lives. Climate activists around the world are rising to the streets to interrupt the extractive capitalistic caste system being operated by a conglomerate conspiracy between banks, corporations, and our governments that are pumping carbon pollution into the air and destroying our futures. 

Beyond climate activists, the streets of the U.S. are ablaze with a diversity of protests and peaceful resistance.  All of these movements are inspired by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who championed non-violent direct action otherwise known as ‘peaceful resistance’ as a transformative force—a love-centered way of thinking, speaking, and acting that leads to profound personal and societal change.  The current-day plagues of climate devastation, racism, sexism, sexual violence, economic oppression, and genocide all demand an urgent intersectional political transformation at this time in history.  

Escalating street protests underscore a deeper societal malady, as they are symptoms of a larger, insidious disease of the human psyche: caste. As Isabel Wilkerson elucidates in her groundbreaking book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, caste is the systemic oppression of one group over another group of people.  Caste is the root cause of our separation from living together peacefully by embracing our common humanity.  In the United States, race is the foundational basis of our caste system, a system that subjugates Black, brown, and Indigenous people under the guise of racial hierarchy. It was so effective, the Nazis initially modeled their genocidal caste system after the Jim Crow South, illustrating the global pervasiveness of this malignant social structure throughout history.  

As we celebrate the end of slavery during the Juneteenth holiday this week, we recall the 2020 largest ever street protests in the wake of  George Floyd’s murder where black and brown people rose chanting #BlackLivesMatter, and millions of white people joined in solidarity in the U.S. and globally.  This began a new era of racial reckoning for black liberation that built on the legacy of the civil rights and abolitionist movements.  Our work today is to overcome the marriage between our government and corporations which sustains a powerful system of economic caste oppression over the majority of black, brown, and also white Americans.

Sexual violence is another pillar of caste systems where perpetrators dehumanize and terrorize others.  Last week, I joined survivors of childhood sexual violence, who for the first time, rallied outside Apple headquarters, demanding justice for the perpetrators of caste technology which is traumatizing too many of our young children.  Tragically, Apple, one of the most powerful companies in the world, prioritizes profits, while leaving our children as bait for the sexual predators that swarm online spaces.  We are demanding children be protected by technology companies.  They must be required by law to detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse materials, which they are failing to do voluntarily.

The State of Israel is implementing a genocidal Zionist settler-colonial caste system that dehumanizes Palestinians, subjecting them to brutal displacement, occupation, sexual violence, oppression, and slaughter.  In response, the Palestinian liberation movement is awakening millions of people around the world to amplify Palestinian voices, hit the streets and form encampments to stop the State of Israel’s relentless assault on Gaza. 

Since the January 2024 ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israel has flagrantly failed to implement “immediate and effective measures” to protect Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip from the risk of genocide.  Israel is blatantly ignoring the May 2024 ICJ order to halt military operations in Rafah, Southern Gaza, as an act of genocide “may” be underway.  Palestinian oppression is a moral crisis that weighs so heavily on the conscience of the world and is shaking the foundations of global caste systems. 

In fact, the global Palestinian liberation movement is now igniting the flames of solidarity across the various struggles—pro-democracy, anti-war, racial equity and climate justice.  There is an unprecedented convergence of justice movements in the U.S. and globally that holds great potential for sparking peaceful resistance into peaceful transformation.

Our nation stands at a pivotal moment.  We must brace ourselves for possible flashpoints, such as a coup attempt, constitutional crises, and political violence.  Street protests will likely escalate to prevent an authoritarian takeover in the U.S., as the majority of Americans believe we cannot go backwards, and we have the opportunity to prevent a re-intensification of racist caste oppression.  Peaceful resistance is a clarion call for action to unlock our political imagination and create a caste-free future, right here and right now.  Enough is enough, and finally the people are rising like the waters! 

 Dr. Paul Zeitz is author of Revolutionary Optimism: 7 Steps for Living as a Love-Centered Activist and founder of #unify Movements.  

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