by Jesse Jackson
Chicago suffers unbearable levels of gun violence, yet the victims remain largely silent. They travel from funeral home to graveyard, rather than march from church to gun shop. The president is applauded when he calls for action on gun violence, but before his plane leaves the tarmac, more are shot, including even the sister of one of the young children standing behind him during his address.
If we are to free ourselves of this terror, we will have to change our minds.
Victims of tyranny have three options. They can adjust, they can resent but turn anger inward, or they can resist and fight back.
I recently spoke at the
No one doubts the threat posed by guns and drugs. Last year, 65 young people in Chicago died in gun violence, the equivalent, as the president noted, of a Newtown every four months. This despite the fact that Chicago police confiscate about 10,000 firearms each year.
This is a crisis.
Guns not only claim loved ones on the mean streets of Chicago.
We are being terrorized, yet we treat the terror as a normal part of life, rather than as an intolerable threat that requires immediate and direct action and protest from those who are most directly suffering from it.
Real change can only occur when victims fight back. The victim might not be responsible for being down; but they are responsible for getting up. That's why Dr. Martin Luther King called upon us to be "creatively maladjusted" to abuse and injustice.
It is only when the victims change their own way of thinking and stop tolerating the status quo that change becomes possible. Slave masters never retire. Slavery ends when the enslaved changed their minds. Segregationists did not end segregation; it ended when the segregated forced a new reality.
Yes, change requires leadership, inspiration and more. But in the end, the victims decide. We will end the scourge of gun violence only when its victims decide that they can no longer accept the losses in lives and in security.
Victims have power. They have consumer power, boycott power, lawsuit power, marching power, the power of counterculture actions and moral authority. They have the power to disturb. They have the power to embrace a multifaceted approach that attacks the phenomena of guns in, drugs in, jobs out, home foreclosure exploitation and crippling poverty. This process requires more than the absence of guns, but the presence of economic security and educational opportunity, as well.
To go from adjustment to freedom, we have to be willing to march, to protest, to go to jail, to risk the rage of the oppressors, to challenge their ways and construct the world that we want to live in, a world without guns, without drugs, without violence.
It can be done -- but only if we decide to act.
A Time to Resist | Politics