It’s true. A picture can be worth a thousand words.
And in rare moments, one picture can help us imagine something that we might not dream possible.
In this particular case photographer Jonathan Backman’s picture of Black Lives Matter protestor leshia Evans speaks volumes about the hope she inspires. Perhaps people can protest in nonviolent peaceful ways and draw attention to ongoing issues like violence against blacks. Perhaps nonviolent conflict resolution is a reality and not just a pipe dream.
It’s saddening to see the police violence against blacks in the U.S., but it’s also disheartening to see some of the violent protests in reaction to this injustice. I won’t pretend to act as judge or jury to either one of these types of violence. But I will commend people like leshia Evans who choose to address their concerns through peaceful nonviolent actions.
There are ways to resolved conflict that are better than resorting to violence. If history teaches us anything, it’s that violence begets violence and hate simply creates more hate.
Twenty-eight year old Ms. Evans has a 5-year-old son. She traveled from New York City to Baton Rouge because she wanted to look her son in the eyes and be able to tell him she fought for his freedom and rights. She’s worried about the violence that’s taking place in America. She wants to be part of the solution. She has no desire to spread more hate or violence.
The picture speaks directly to her determination to protest in peace. If you notice she stands with both feet planted firmly on the ground. Yet, she’s not about to offer any physical resistance to her arrest or back down from being a voice against the violence inflicted on blacks—especially young black men like her son will be all too soon. Her arms are crossed in front of her showing her resolve to remain firm yet nonviolent in her protest with her one hand extended in peace. She doesn’t want her son to have to worry about being shot because of the colour of his skin.
She’s not naïve enough to think that her small protest will solve the issues at hand, but she’s brave enough to stand up and be heard. Something in her moved her to take action, so she did. She realized that if more people get involved the greater the chance for peace.
This nonviolent approach to conflict is not new. A Jewish Rabbi, Yeshua bar Yosef Min Netseret, more commonly known as Jesus started it in first century Palestine by teaching people to love their enemies. Mahatma Gandhi used these teachings in South Africa and India in the early part of the twentieth century to inspire millions to use nonviolent means to protest injustices, and then Martin Luther King Jr. did the same when he led nonviolent protests during the African-American Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 60s.
leshia Evans stands in a long line of people led to resist evil in nonviolent proactive ways. I commend her for her courage and fortitude.
My hope is that more of us will join this movement of love and peace. There is a better way than violence. I pray that the leaders of our world will also move in this direction. In the meantime, I encourage us all to believe that our small actions of love and nonviolent conflict resolution can also make a difference in this world.