Thursday, March 22, 2007

Cesar Chavez

Bio: Dynamic, charismatic, deeply committed and deeply religious, Cesar Chavez is the leader of an unprecedented strike among migrant workers in California. Chavez is not a philosopher; he is an activist. It is through these actions that one can see a non-violence that is deeply rooted in his faith.

The first selection discusses the need for creativity in using non-violence as a method for social change. The second selection is the text of a statement that was made by Chavez at the completion of his twenty-five-day penitential fast in Delano, California, March
10, 1968.

Quotations:

"When people are involved in something constructive, trying to bring about change, they tend to be less violent than those who are not engaged in rebuilding or in anything creative. Non-violence forces one to be creative; it forces any leader to go to the people and get them involved so that they can come forth with new ideas. I think that once people understand the strength of non-violence— the force it generates, the love it creates, the response that it brings from the total community—they will not be willing to abandon it easily."

"I undertook this fast because my heart filled with grief and pain for the suffering of farm workers. The fast was first of all for me, and then for all of us in the union. It was a fast for non-violence and a call to sacrifice.

Our struggle is not easy. Those who oppose our cause are high and powerful and they have many allies in high places. We are poor, and our allies are few—but we have something the rich do not own. We have our own bodies and spirits and the justice of our cause as our weapon.

When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are. It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life.

I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice. To be a man is to suffer for others.

God help us to be men."

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