October 25, 2013

Non-Cooperation The Key To Change

We have a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws as well as
refuse to cooperate with unjust systems.

Making change is good, but not everyone has the means to camp out in Zuccotti Park for a few weeks. And as much as many of us would like to march on the Capital, or confront evil frackers on the front lines of the War on the Environment, these may not be practical responses for the masses.

So what can an activist-minded person do closer to home?

All of us, wherever we are, have the option of withdrawing our cooperation in a system that is hell bent on destroying the environment and anything that gets in the way. This system can only operate as long as we choose to continue participating and cooperating.

The moral thing to do is to refuse to go along with things that smack of evil, exploitation and destruction.

Once we stop lending our support, change happens and the system as we know it will begin to reflect the desires of those hoping to establish a kinder, gentler, more respectful system.

Simple Guidelines for Non-Cooperation

  1. Don't work for them. We can refuse to participate by withdrawing our labour. Before accepting a job ask, "Is this right livelihood, or will working here create harmful results?"
  2. Don't buy their stuff. A very effective way to show you are not participating in our sick system is by withdrawing your cash from it. People in the business world tend to take notice of things like that. Before buying anything ask, "Is the manufacture, use, or disposal of this product harmful to myself, others, or the environment?"
  3. Don't invest your money in their enterprises. Many individuals and institutions such as universities are divesting themselves of investments in harmful corporations such as those that produce fossil fuels, cigarettes, weapons, or nuclear. Look for ethical or green investments.

If you have ever participated in a boycott you have experienced a small bit of what Gandhi called peaceful non-cooperation. He defined this powerful and accessible tool as "a protest against an unwitting and unwilling participation in evil".

He added, "Non-co-operation with evil is as much a duty as co-operation with good."

Refusing to participate in your own destruction may be simple, but it is far from easy. We have come to depend on the evil that provides us with the excessive lifestyles to which we have become accustomed. It will be hard to unplug and learn new ways independent of the system, but it is far from impossible and can be immensely rewarding.

Just as Gandhi and his followers learned to make their own clothes and manufacture their own salt in order to free themselves from their colonizing masters, we must learn to provide for ourselves apart from the exploitation and greed of those currently trying to colonize our minds for profit.

Riffing off Gandhi's work, Martin Luther King Jr. said, "To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor."

Change will come when enough of us refuse to cooperate with our current unjust systems. Don't work for them, and don't buy their stuff.

2 comments:

  1. Great Post! Its true, if people actually put their money where their mouth is, the world just might be a tad better. We purchased Joe Fresh because it was cheap and cheerful. For this convience over 1K people died and others work in very poor conditions. Simply don't purchase the product. Withdrawing from the market place is a great way to make a point and creat jobs closer to home. It isn't easy. Just try finding a kettle made in North America.

    People continue to shop at stores which use dubious suppliers because they say it saves them money. Not really. When things are imported from countries with bad labour practises and cheap labour we loose jobs here. When that happens, there is also a cost, which we eventually pay, one way or another.

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