Mark Twain once said, “New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.” Although there isn’t much evidence to dispute such a claim, perhaps it’s time to create some.
With that in mind, we decided to reach out to some truly bold social movement thinkers and ask for their revolutionary resolutions — the things they are most looking forward to in their own work for the coming year, and what they hope can come from people-powered struggles for justice in 2013. May these offerings spark your own imagination and help you ring in the New Year with some dangerous ideas for a better world.
“I’ve pledged myself since I was a young student back in Burma to advocate for human rights for every human being while ensuring that contemporary consumerist capitalism will not persist, for the sake of humanity and the environment. One thing I’m looking forward to is to start working on UNESCO’s upcoming Fourth Annual Regional Forum in Uruguay sometime in fall of 2013, as well as to launch an innovative project in Burma to provide basic education to children who are working over 16 hours every day at local teashops.” – Tim Aye-Hardy, chairperson of the UNESCO Chair International Forum Planning Committee and Burmese human rights activist
“Kids are the target of violence and hatred all over the world, from Damascus to Detroit, Herat to Hartford, Najaf to Newtown. As a new parent, I ache and weep and rage at each new story. I wonder about how to care for and raise my own kids and be a full and active participant in movements for peace and justice while being in relationship with those on the margins. In the coming year, I want to explore that balance within parenting — nurturing new life, feathering the nest, delighting in each step and word and move, while organizing and fighting to make the world welcoming, equitable, safe, sustainable and peaceful for all children. It may even be easier than giving up sugar or practicing my concertina, right?” – Frida Berrigan, organizer with Witness Against Torture and WNV columnist
“My revolutionary resolution is to make decisions from a place of love… really. In the wake of the recent storms, tragedies and inexplicable loss of lives close to me, and as a parent of a pre-teen in a world going to hell in a climate handbasket, I don’t know what else to say that means anything. In order to mobilize the masses needed to win against egregious corporations and big banks, it’s imperative that we all bridge from outrage to the courage to stand up for what we love — our families, friends, health, land, water, communities. To take care of each other, believe we can make change and fight from love.” – Nadine Bloch, trainer, activist and WNV columnist
“To use the signs of climate change I experience daily not as a motive for depression but as a basis for connecting with other people. To hold up the possibility of common preservation in the midst of mutual destruction.” - Jeremy Brecher, author of Save the Humans: Common Preservation in Action and Strike!
“2013 will be the year of training for nonviolent change. Nonviolence training is the backbone of successful people power movements. It provides a vision of how social change works, the tools to make it happen, and the grounding for individuals and groups to face the challenges and opportunities that come with changing the world. Over the next 12 months, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service will work with other nonviolence training organizations to nurture the emergence of a comprehensive network of trainers and to help establish local, regional, and national trainings to support a wide range of campaigns and movements for powerful social change.” – Ken Butigan, Waging Nonviolence columnist, director of Pace e Bene and author of Pilgrimage Through a Burning World: Spiritual Practice and Nonviolent Protest at the Nevada Test Site
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“I ended 2012 with a peace pilgrimage to Afghanistan, a powerful experience where I witnessed the horrors of war and poverty, but also the hope of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, a beautiful group of young people committed to nonviolence. In this New Year, I’m interested in plumbing anew the inner spiritual depths of peace and nonviolence in the midst of my activism and public work, that I might discover deeper causes for hope. Can I become more a person of prayer, and discover the connections between the inner work of disarming the heart and the public work of disarming the world? Dare I push the mystical boundaries of peace, and engage a new kind of dangerous holiness that threatens war, empire, corporate greed and nuclear weapons, and so radiate a universal, compassionate, forgiving, nonviolent love for everyone, and remain centered in the eternal present moment of peace? That kind of peacemaking, I believe, is spiritually explosive, globally revolutionary and astonishingly hopeful, and I find it the highest goal worth seeking.” – Rev. John Dear, activist and author of 30 books on peace and nonviolence, most recently Lazarus, Come Forth!
“As 2012 wound down, low-wage workers started to stand up — at Walmarts, McDonald’s, car washes and grocery stores across New York, warehouse workers in Illinois and California, security workers at JFK airport. We’ve been stuck with a low-wage economy for too long, and these workers are doing something to change it. In 2013, I expect much more — more strikes, more struggle, more wins. It’s going to be a long slow process of changing the way our society thinks about and treats its lowest-paid employees, but it’s one of the most important fights I can think of. And my resolution is to be there for as much of it as I can.” – Sarah Jaffe, independent journalist and WNV contributor
“This year I resolve to be the best bridge-builder I can be. I believe 2013 will be a year of connection and synergy. This February will see the largest mobilization yet to stop the Keystone XL oil pipeline with new and renewed alliances across the spectrum of social movements. In June 350.org and our allies are bringing together 500 youth from over 75 different countries in a convergence called Global Power Shift in Istanbul to build skills, share strategy and build political alignment to tackle the root causes of the climate crisis. Our friends working to stop fossil fuel extraction (fracking, oil, coal, gas) are bringing together people across different struggles and movements in the Extreme Energy Summit. The U.S. Climate Justice Alignment process is bringing together frontline communities in an Our Power gathering hosted by the Black Mesa Water Coalition on the Navajo Reservation. Students and community groups are on fire with campaigns to divest from fossil fuels, bringing new allies and stakeholders into the movement. All of this work inspires me, and I think we will see our movements swell with broader alliances, new entry points for people who never considered themselves ‘activists,’ and new bold strategies.” – Joshua Kahn Russell, author of Organizing Cools the Planet and U.S. actions coordinator for 350.org
“As 2012 came to a close, televised reports showed demonstrations in Iraq with tens of thousands of Sunni demonstrators in Anbar province protesting the allegedly sectarian policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The images remain in my mind as a signal of the widening awareness of the field of nonviolent struggle; aggrieved Iraqis, who comprehend the logic of nonviolent resistance, were fighting with political tools rather than IEDs. The exact outcome remains unclear, but the imagery on Al Jazeera prompts my personal resolution: I shall work even harder in 2013 for depth of worldwide understanding of how civil resistance can be used to press for serious social and political change in acute conflicts, without bloodshed.” – Mary Elizabeth King, WNV columnist and author of A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and Nonviolent Resistance
“Our resolution at 350.org is to take the fight to the fossil fuel industry as hard as we can–we’re tired of playing around with their puppets in D.C. and eager to take on the guys pulling the strings.” – Bill McKibben, environmental author, activist and founder of 350.org
“Metta’s main contribution to a nonviolent future is an ambitious scheme called Roadmap that lays out a three-phase, long-term nonviolent strategy for ‘the great turning.’ It builds up to resistance through personal empowerment and constructive program. Roadmap will be on the inside front cover of the January issue of Tikkun, etc. and we are creating an interactive tool on our website so that anyone can participate at whatever level feels right. We particularly invite Occupiers to come have a look at Roadmap as we go forward: our emphasis on constructive program should resonate well with their most recent (and brilliant) “occupations”: Sandy relief and the Rolling Jubilee.” – Michael Nagler – President of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and author of Search for a Nonviolent Future
“In the year 2013, I expect even more affirmation of people power and its basic concepts. We can expect tough nonviolent struggles for democracy, human rights and social justice worldwide, from Rangoon to Cairo, from Madrid to New York, from Moscow to Male. If there is one thing I may wish it is that we all learn how to best educate, promote and support hundreds of thousands brave activists engaged in this conflicts.” – Srdja Popovic, former Otpor leader and founder of the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS)
Churchill is reported to have declared that “History is written by the victors.” How the history of the Arab Spring is written will have a profound effect upon the future of nonviolent struggle and the type of action used to conduct future campaigns. It is possible that 2013 will see the field locked in a battle of analysis over how the victories and losses of recent years have come about and whether these events have led to positive changes for the societies in which these struggles were waged. A victory for strategic nonviolent struggle on the ground could be rolled back by the lack of careful analysis and documentation of the events based on historical reality. Access to information about the requirements for success of nonviolent struggle can help people understand past struggles, and help to make future ones more effective. The Albert Einstein Institution is looking forward to expanding its programs and activities this year in order to contribute to increasing that knowledge and understanding. - Jamila Raqib, Executive Director, The Albert Einstein Institution.