But the media’s focus on violence ultimately reinforces the conviction that violence is powerful, that it is a reasonable response to political conflicts, and that it is a means toward social change. In fact the media is overlooking forms of nonviolent action all the time. They are overlooked in some cases because they are happening at the grassroots level, and thus don’t appear significant enough to draw mainstream media attention. But for those who believe in nonviolence as a principle of change, it’s occurring everywhere you look, once you put on the right lens.
The editors of WagingNonviolence.org have long captured my attention with their ability to simultaneously support nonviolent action while maintaining a critical eye toward it. (Disclosure: I’m a contributor to the site.) They aim to not only tell readers about peaceful forms of protest occurring around the world, but also provide some analysis: what does it mean in the long run, why is it occurring at this moment and in this way, and above all, most importantly, does it appear to be effective?
During the recent uprisings in the Middle East, I was glued to WagingNonviolence’s coverage of the pro-democracy movements, especially the Egyptian one. They provided frequent updates of what was happening on the ground, drawing from a variety of media sources, including Facebook and Twitter. And they also told readers how to show their support using online media and mobile technologies.
I believe that this site represents the power of independent journalism at its finest. While it’s clearly important that mainstream outlets work to at least maintain a facade of objectivity, in the end they’re all biased anyway. Sites like WagingNonviolence that have an agenda can shed light on happenings that completely change our perspective of the world, and they also add volume to the voices of people who are trying to transform their situations without resorting to violence. So I appreciate the way that WagingNonviolence presents and pursues the goals of their site, without being naive or compromising their ability to be critical and reflexive.
One of my favorite features on the site is their weekly roundup of nonviolent actions happening all over the world, called Experiments with Truth. And what’s really great is that the site maintains a sense of humor, even when talking about serious issues; an example of this is the text-message dispatches coming from one of the site’s writers who was in the occupied Capitol building in Wisconsin during the recent protests against Governor Walker’s anti-union bill.
It’s inspiring to see how the internet can foster community, create dialogue, and promote democratic change.