I finally figured it out. Most of you might already understand this principle, but it has escaped me since 1969. Thanks to the fine coverage Rachel Maddow has been giving the Egyptian protests of 2011, I finally get it!
Please read the chapter on my blog entitled “The Mystery of Evil” for some background information. A short synopsis… While I was participating in a peaceful protest in Grant Park in 1969, a group of Chicago policemen walked up to us and looked as though they wanted to bash our heads in, like they had done to the protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
At that point I made a decision that although protest against war and tyranny was a good thing, and no matter how peaceful my intent, I had also caused the opposite of peace in the form of warlike beings who appeared there because I was there.
Now, during the last few days, as I watched the protesters in Egypt peacefully demonstrating, hundreds of government supporters marched in and threw Molotov cocktails and attacked members of the media. It became clear to me that the reason that those government supporters were there was to provoke violence from the protesters. If the protesters then had become violent in return, the government supporters would have successfully created a reason for the army to step in and start shooting the protesters.
The situation is similar to my 1969 experience in that if I had made a move towards the policeman standing in front of me, he would have reason to hurt me. Since my group and I remained peaceful, the police were marched away.
As I am close to age 70, I’m going to say that I will probably no longer put my body out there to protest what I see are terrible wrongs in this society and the world. I also don’t believe that I have all the answers, because people kill and hurt others with no provocation. All I can hope for is if I ever do decide to participate in a peaceful protest, even though violent, hurtful people may come and try to provoke me to violence, if I remain non-violent, I am not creating evil. As the song goes, “We shall overcome…” if “…we are not afraid.”