Opinion: Fighting Violence with Non-Violence

Most of us can only imagine the terror of being shot at by a deranged gunman. But sadly, we know all too well the shock and horror that come with hearing about yet another shooting at a school, theater, nightclub, church, workplace, or shopping mall.

This Wednesday, it was an attack at a ballfield that targeted some of our duly elected members of Congress. As I write this article, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana remains hospitalized from a gunshot wound to the hip. Also wounded were Capitol Police officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner, congressional staffer Zachary Barth, and Matt Mika, a former congressional staffer who now works at the Washington office of Tyson Foods.

We may not have been the ones staring down the barrel of a gun on Wednesday morning but make no mistake, this was an attack on the integrity of our government, and was therefore an attack on all of us.

Let me say that again.

No matter the political party of the victims, no matter the contents of the gunman’s Facebook or Twitter feed, no matter whose campaign he volunteered with, no matter what media outlets he got his news from, no matter which organizations he belonged to, no matter why he targeted the people he targeted, this attack was an attack on all of us.

When we are attacked, it’s natural to want to fight back. But how? And against whom?

In the wake of this barbaric act, some have tried to cast blame on political opponents, allegedly biased members of the media, a comedian who posed with a severed head, the producers of a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, and scores of other convenient targets.

But after the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords outside an Arizona supermarket, I recall similar criticisms pointed in the opposite direction, and none of it was helpful in bringing our country together in a desperately needed spirit of healing.

I propose instead that we fight back against the normalization of violence itself, and the threats of violence that seek to silence our collective voices.

Against misinformation and propaganda, we fight back with facts.

Against overheated rhetoric, we fight back with reasoned arguments.

Against fake news, we fight back with fact checking.

Against blind partisanship, we fight back with tolerance.

Against inflammatory memes, we fight back with restraint.

Against personal attacks, we fight back with respect.

And against violence, we must rededicate ourselves to the principle of non-violence.

In our polarized society, in our overcharged environment, in our age where shocking news is delivered instantly to devices in the palms of our hands, fighting violence with reason, facts, tolerance, restraint, respect, and, most of all, non-violence, has never been more important.

By staying informed, by providing feedback to our members of Congress, by engaging in civil dialogue and peaceful demonstrations, by registering to vote, and by turning out on Election Day, we can have a positive effect on the direction of state and national leadership, all without anybody getting shot by anybody else.

Thoughts and prayers go out to Representative Scalise, Officers Bailey and Griner, Mr. Barth, Mr. Mika, and their families, and much gratitude to all of the law enforcement officers who prevented this incident from becoming an even greater tragedy.

Opinion blog posts represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Indivisible Groton Area or its individual members. IGA invites input and opinion from among the diversity of its membership.

Opinion: Massachusetts Climate Accord

Accord (noun)
  1. proper relationship or proportion; harmony.
  2. a harmonious union of sounds, colors, etc.
  3. consent or concurrence of opinions or wills; agreement.
  4. an international agreement; settlement of questions outstanding among nations.

As Donald Trump decides to pull a reluctant nation from the Paris Climate Accord, a symbolic move that takes our country backward and reduces our standing in the world of nations, Governor Charlie Baker has stated that Massachusetts will participate in the U.S. Climate Alliance, along with California, New York, Washington, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

As the Commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker

In addition, Maura Healy is working with a coalition of 19 state attorneys general called “We Are Still In.”

On behalf of our communities, our businesses, and our residents, the state attorneys general are proud to join this national alliance in support of achieving American commitments to the Paris Agreement.Massachusetts AG Maura Healey

How can we who believe that clean water, clean air, and renewable energy are the only sane way forward participate in helping Massachusetts move toward the goal of exceeding the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement?

Below are a few recommendations for actions at the state, local, and federal level. By taking action, despair and frustration transform into empowerment and hope.

This is how we fight back!

State Legislation

The first step is to educate ourselves about Carbon Pricing bills currently in the Massachusetts legislature. There are two: one in the House and one in the Senate.

MA House Bill H.1726:

MA House Bill H.1726: An Act to promote green infrastructure, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs was proposed by Jen Benson, and co-sponsored by Jamie Eldridge and 57 others.

Sheila Harrington has not yet co-sponsored this bill. She represents First Middlesex, consisting of Ashby, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Townsend, and Precinct 1 of Ayer.

Let’s ask her why:
Representative Sheila Harrington: 617-722-2305.

MA Senate Bill S.1821:

MA Senate Bill S.1821: An Act Combating Climate Change was proposed by Sen. Michael Barrett with 62 other signers.

Senator Eileen Donoghue has not yet agreed to cosponsor this bill. She represents First Middlesex, consisting of Lowell, Dunstable, Groton, Pepperell, Tyngsborough, and Westford,

Let’s talk with her about it:
Senator Eileen Donoghue: 617-722-1630.

Information Session:

Representative Jen Benson will be giving a presentation on MA House Bill H.1726 on Thursday, June 29, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Shirley Town Hall, located at 7 Keady Way, Shirley.

The Town Hall is located in the municipal complex between the police station and Hazen Memorial Library.

You can read more about the event and RSVP here: Moving MA Towards a Low-Carbon Economy.

Act Local

Barbara Rich spoke in church recently (First Parish Groton), saying that when things feel big and overwhelming, she reminds herself to start small, to start local.

We all have things we could be doing at home to reduce our impact on the environment. Right now there is an embarrassingly large bag of shopping bags in the back of my car waiting to be recycled.  I’m going to start keeping reusable shopping bags in the car so I don’t forget.

Here in Groton we have a Sustainability Committee with a volunteer board (hint: 2 openings on this important board!).  They promote initiatives on Climate Action, Pollinator Protection, ongoing erosion to the Squannacook and Nashua Rivers, and a well-being initiative.

Take a look at what they’re up to–all politics is local!

Federal Legislation

We started at the state level, and moved to the personal and local.  It’s time to cast a wider net and look at what’s happening in the halls of Congress. There is a bill lurking in the Senate: S.951: The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017.

Senate Bill S.951:

During the upcoming weeks of June, Republicans will be seeking Democratic support for Senate Bill S.951: The Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017. This anti-regulatory, anti-environmental bill could have long-lasting effects on the environment and other regulatory agencies long after the 2020 election.

Massachusetts Senators Warren and Markey will not, as far as we can tell, support this.

However, Democrats in red states could be tempted. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are both cosponsors, although West Virginia Indivisible is actively challenging Manchin for his stance.

Indivisible has provided us with excellent materials on this complex bill.

The most effective thing we can do is talk to environmentalists in other states about this bill and let them know about its far-reaching and environmentally destructive ramifications. Call some old friends that haven’t heard from you in a while.  You know, the ones you used to hike with, who love the fresh air and wide open spaces of our beautiful country.

Ask them how they’ve been; they might be open to hearing more about possible actions they can take, like joining a local Indivisible group, supporting the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and most importantly for those in red states plus West Virginia and North Dakota, ask them to call both of their senators and register their concern about this bill.  Who knows, perhaps that old friend is part of the national Indivisible network!

Renewing relationships with old friends brings us full circle back to the concept of accord: a proper relationship or proportion, harmony.  The current climate in Washington is one of discord, yet there are signs of hope.  Cities, states, and even corporations have come forward to fill in the gap left by the federal government in climate protection.

We are not alone.

Deborah Santoro
with Margaret Scarsdale and Dina Samfield

Opinion blog posts represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Indivisible Groton Area or its individual members. IGA invites input and opinion from among the diversity of its membership.