Thursday, January 14, 2016

Civil Response to Violence

Transcript from Emiliano Salinas TED Talk   

"I'm going to talk about how to go from a society that acts as a victim of circumstances to a responsible, involved society that takes the future of its country in its own hands. I'm going to talk about four different levels of civil response against violence, from weakest to strongest. The first level, the weakest level of civil response against violence, is denial and apathy. Today, much of Mexican society is in denial of the situation we're going through. We want to go on with our daily life even though we are not living under normal circumstances. Daily life in our country is, to say the least, under extraordinary, exceptional circumstances. It's like someone who has a serious illness and pretends it's the flu and it will just go away. We want to pretend that Mexico has the flu. But it doesn't. Mexico has cancer. And if we don't do something about it, the cancer will end up killing it.

We need to move Mexican society from denial and apathy to the next level of citizen response, which is, effectively, recognition. And that recognition will sow fear -- recognizing the seriousness of the situation. But, fear is better than apathy because fear makes us do something. Many people in Mexico are afraid today. We're very afraid. And we're acting out of that fear. And let me tell you what the problem is with acting out of fear -- and this is the second level of civil response: fear.

Let's think about Mexican streets: they're unsafe because of violence, so people stay at home. Does that make streets more or less safe? Less safe! So streets become more desolate and unsafe, so we stay home more -- which makes streets even more desolate and unsafe, and we stay home even more. This vicious circle ends up with the whole population stuck inside their houses, scared to death -- even more afraid than when we were out on the streets. We need to confront this fear. We need to move Mexican society, the members of society who are at this level, to the next level, which is action.

We need to face our fears and take back our streets, our cities, our neighborhoods. For many people, acting involves courage. We go from fear to courage. They say, "I can't take it anymore. Let's do something about it." Recently -- this is a sensitive figure -- 35 public lynchings have been recorded so far in 2010 in Mexico. Usually it's one or two a year. Now we're experiencing one every week. This shows that society is desperate and it's taking the law into its own hands. Unfortunately, violent action -- though action is better than no action -- but taking part in it only disguises violence. If I'm violent with you and you respond with violence, you become part of the violence and you just disguise my violence.

So civil action is vital, but it's also vital to take people who are at the level of courage and violent action to the next level, which is non-violent action. It's pacific, coordinated civil action, which doesn't mean passive action. It means it's determined and effective, but not violent.

Mahatma Gandhi, one of the greatest civil fighters of all time, said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Today in Mexico we're asking for Gandhis. We need Gandhis. We need men and women who love Mexico and who are willing to take action. This is a call for every true Mexican to join this initiative. This is a call so that every single thing we love about Mexico -- the festivals, the markets, the restaurants, the cantinas, the tequila, the mariachis, the serenades, the posadas, El Grito, the Day of the Dead, San Miguel, the joy, the passion for life, the fight and everything it means to be Mexican -- doesn't disappear from this world.

We're facing a very powerful opponent. But we are many more. They can take a man's life. Anyone can kill me, or you, or you. But no one can kill the spirit of true Mexicans."

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