In early January, I traveled from Orlando to Michigan for a graduate school residency and ended up having an encounter with a little book that led me here.
The flight from Orlando to Michigan was delayed by something like an hour. During that window of time, I finished reading one of the required texts for the residency and pulled out the next one: Tribes, by Seth Godin.
In it, Seth Godin talks about the need for leaders willing to step out in front and engage others with an idea. He talks about the power of following the trail of an idea that has gripped us with a passion. And he talks about how change can happen in the world when a tribe of people devoted to a singular idea have a place to gather and communicate about it.
I’d been pondering the idea of a dedicated online space to explore nonviolence and my own journey deeper into it for a little while before reading this book. But it wasn’t until Seth Godin framed it in the language of a tribe that something really clicked for me about it.
I wrote in the margins of that book while I was reading:
How can I invite others into their own nonviolent journey, and to share what they’re doing with the rest of the tribe?
Then I put down the book, picked up my pen, and let it fly across the pages of my journal with the following:
What does it take to create a tribe around the journey toward nonviolence?
I think this begins with deciding to go. To do it.
The next step is declaring the vision.
What is this tribe about, and what do we believe can happen? What are we about, and what do we want to see happen in the world?
I sat for a moment and thought about those questions. What would this tribe be about, if it existed? What do people traveling the journey toward nonviolence believe? More pointedly, what had I, in my own journey along this path, come to embrace as the bedrock foundation of my beliefs?
I tapped my pen against my lips for a few moments and stared at the page. Then I wrote, very deliberately, the following:
THE JTN TRIBE IS ABOUT:
- The precious dignity of every human person
- Forgiveness and reconciliation
- Compassionate listening that heals, empowers, and ultimately creates a more loving human family
- Examining the violence in our own hearts and lives in a commitment to confess and repent of our contribution to the world’s destruction and devastation
- An unwavering belief in the unique power of love to overcome and transform violence
- Offering creative, life-giving love in response to any degree of violence or hatred
- Learning with each other and from each other
- Celebrating acts of love and nonviolence within this community and around the world
- Forgiving ourselves and each other when we fail to live this journey well
- [Edited to add — from Gigi] Responding to violence with curiosity, rather than anger or judgment
- [Edited to add — from Gigi] Looking out at the world with and through eyes of love
- [Edited to add — from Sarah] Finding specific situations and places to actively choose and practice nonviolence
This is our manifesto, at least to the extent I was able to craft it on my own. I’d love your feedback and suggestions, too! Personally, if I were to add anything extra to what I wrote in my journal that day, I think it would contain something about the need for divine assistance to accomplish any of this.
It is my plan to explore each of these points in greater detail over the next several weeks. As I write each post, I’ll come back here and link to the new post for each point. And when we’re done with that exercise, I’ll share the original vision I imagined for this community as I dreamed aloud in my journal on that fateful plane ride in January.
In the meantime, is there anything you’d add to the list above? Anything you’d add, change, or remove?
(For future reference, this bulleted declaration will always be nested at the top of the page under the About JTN link. There, I’ll also update the points with links to the posts that explore each one in further depth.)