I am so aware of my own human impulses to kill, to seek revenge, to cast blame. When I lived at the Catholic Worker and kids got into trouble they would say “Nonviolence is your strength,” quoting my Cesar Chavez button.
I’d answer, “Nonviolence is the ideal I strive for. I might not live up to it.”
The kids would laugh and promise to be good. They were secure in the confidence I would never hit them, and I was secure in that confidence too. I wouldn’t hit anyone.
But I recognize in myself the desire to hit, or, in the current case, to bomb Libyan airbases. I recognize the desire of the revolutionaries to fight. I even recognize Gaddafi’s desire to strike out in righteous indignation and repress the rebellion. I’ve felt all those impulses. I just know they won’t lead to anything good.
Young men and women in Egypt and Tunisia stood together and faced down violence. They were probably plenty afraid, but they had the good fortune to live through the experience and taste dignity and empowerment. Together they own their revolution. What is ahead of them is difficult and may fail. But they’ve made a good start.