While standing in line at the local coffee shop before heading into last night’s community-wide forum on “The High Cost of Gun Violence”, I was struck by the local newspaper’s front page news: “Slaying under investigation: 21-year-old man died of multiple gunshot wounds; gang connection unknown.” Just this past Tuesday a few blocks from my house the first homicide of the year in Santa Barbara occurred. Synchronicity I thought to myself as I grabbed my cup of coffee and joined the group gathering at the city’s public library. As I walked in the room I knew I was in good company: a room full of what could have been my grandmother, your grandmother, our grandmothers, coming together— elderly, predominately white, women. And let me tell you, these old grannies were fierce.
This morning the 50-something-year-old housekeeper popped by my office to say hello and give me a hug, as he usually does first thing each day. He practices his English, I practice my Spanish, and we talk about all sorts of things, from pozole to yoga, from cultural differences (Mexican/American) to love & relationships. This morning, he sat down and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mija, if you really want to learn something about this life, listen to the old people.” I immediately thought of all the women at last night’s forum.
Beyond the national debate of gun politics and the extremist positions on both sides, last night reminded me of the importance of nonviolence, community, and peace; of Margaret Mead’s “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” It grounded me in gratitude for my personal yoga practice, a practice of love, acceptance, and truth. It helped to restore my faith in humanity and the belief that we can collectively live from a heart-centered space, from our truth. It served as a reminder as to why I do not own a television set nor watch the sensationalist news and glorified violence that is constantly visible in our culture, whether it’s on T.V., or on the internet, or in the local newspaper. The elderly woman sitting next to me last night quietly whispered to me as we were leaving, “let there be peace.” Today, I think of the quote, “let there be peace and let it begin with me.” Peace can come in the form of a simple smile or hug, or in the monumental shift of reacting from a space of anger to living in a space of understanding. Today, my heart goes out to all the beautiful women and girls around the world who are victims of violence and I pray for their safety and well-being. Learn more about V Day: A global movement to end violence against women and girls. By the way, this is the same organization that put on the Vagina Monologues that I went to on Valentine’s Day, which was AMAZING!
There are so many before us that inspire, we are standing on the shoulders of some pretty amazing giants. Here are some incredible quotes from such people.
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”- Jimi Hendrix
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.- MLK, Jr.
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”-MLK, Jr.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”- MLK, Jr.
“Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.”- MLK, Jr.
“It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”- MLK, Jr.
“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”- Gandhi
“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”- Gandhi
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”- Gandhi
“Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.”- Gandhi
“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”- Dalai Lama
“It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.”- Aristotle
Last night’s forum was moderated by Mayor Helene Schneider and included a panel of mental health experts, police officers, educators, doctors, counselors, and victims of gun violence. It was coordinated by the Coalition Against Gun Violence, the only such coalition on the central coast to advocate for gun control, in partnership with different organizations such as the League of Women Voters, Domestic Violence Solutions, La Casa de la Raza, The Unitarian Society, and Democratic Women of S.B. County.
Learn more about the Coalition Against Gun Violence here.