Episode 5: Audiences
Reconciliation is possible at every level of society — between people, between people and God, and between people and our planet.
Nonviolent direct action can be a powerful part of a campaign pursuing reconciliation. And actions are especially meaningful when they are geared toward specific groups of people, moving them along the path of reconciliation. These audiences will fall on a spectrum that ranges from allies that support your cause to opponents of your cause.
Read Luke 9:1-5.
Spend more time with Luke 9:1-5, using Lectio Divina (Praying Scripture).
Jesus sending out the disciples reflects nonviolent direct action:
•Don't spend too much time worrying about those who strongly disagree.
•Keep the message consistent, using the main talking points.
One aspect of nonviolent resistance is bringing conflicts to the attention of one's opponents. Some people may be uncomfortable with the idea of an opponent, but you will have opponents in your direct action. Your opponents are people, institutions and systems that are invested in the way things are. Though they may be good people, they are invested in violence.
People generally react strongly to disruptions to the status quo, even if the status quo is inequitable. Our goal is not to make everyone comfortable with what we have to say. We hope that the conflict we evoke through nonviolent direct action exposes those who are comfortable with the discomfort they are causing, so that they may change their ways and healing can begin.
It is naive to think that no one will oppose our work. Those engaged in nonviolent direct action do not pretend that they do not have opponents, but rather, they seek to humanize their opponents. By continuing to remember that our opponents are beloved children of God, we are able to engage in conflict with them in constructive ways. Instead of tearing our opponents down, we focus on building up and growing support for our cause. This leaves room for, and encourages, opponents to have a change of heart.
Not everyone is an active opponent, however. Some are passive opponents, others are neutral and some people are even passive allies! Reconciliation means engaging with someone, regardless of where they are on the spectrum.
Spectrum of allies exercise
- Set up a "half-pie" drawing (see diagram). Label the entire drawing with the name of the specific movement or campaign you are discussing, and put yourself on the left side, with your opposition on the right side.
- Divide the half-pie into five slices:
- Active allies —people who agree with you and are fighting alongside you.
- Passive allies — people who agree with you but aren't doing anything about it, yet.
- Neutrals — people who are unengaged and uninformed.
- Passive opposition — people who disagree with you but aren't trying to stop you.
- Active opposition — people who are actively organizing against you.
- Place the names of constituencies, organizations or individuals in the appropriate wedges. Spend a significant amount of time brainstorming groups and individuals that belong in each section. Be specific; list them with as many identifying characteristics as possible. And make sure to cover every wedge; neglecting sections will limit your strategic planning and your potential effectiveness.
- Step back and see if you're being specific enough. For every group or individual you listed in your diagram, ask yourself whether you could be more specific — are there more adjectives or qualifiers you could add to give more definition to the description? You might be tempted to say something like "mothers," but the reality might be that "wealthy mothers who live in gated communities" might belong in one wedge and "mothers who work as market vendors" would belong in another. The more specific you can be, the better this tool will serve you.
- When you come up against the limits of your knowledge, make sure to start a list of follow-up questions — and commit to doing the research you'll need to get the answers.
Small group/partner discussion question:
What strategies have you used when someone opposed an idea, strategy or idea you shared?
Large group discussion questions:
- What did you learn from the spectrum of allies exercise?
- What feelings come up for you, as you looking at the spectrum?
Close in prayer.