Howdy Neighbor! Let’s Talk Nonviolent Resistance

Look closer- you might find nonviolent resistance in your own backyard

For years, I have worked as a lifeguard at my community clubhouse. This institution is close-knit and many have gotten to know their neighbors very well through this centered facility. The Clubhouse is a recreational center that brings residents together for celebrations, socialization, and exercise. Within this institution, residents, management, and the Board of Directors are also faced with daily problems, regarding people, property, and ways to make improvements in the neighborhood. Recently, a large issue erupted when the community manager, Amy, decided to resign from her position. Chaos hit when the Board of Directors (who plans financial budgets and votes on spending use) drove my manager, Amy, out of her job position. As an employee, I heard many stories about the situation. Amy and other witnessing neighbors have claimed that for many years, members of the Board have verbally bullied her. Despite the Board’s attitude toward her, Amy was admired by the majority of the residents. Granted, there were no significant human rights at stake, but neighbors of the Clubhouse demonstrated that nonviolent resistance could exist on a less intense spectrum.

Just like a board meeting? Not exactly- MLK has a much more influential speech under his belt..

There’s a rumor that members of the Board had a personal vendetta against Amy for not hiring their own children as employees of The Clubhouse, years ago. The bullying became so unbearable that Amy chose to resign from her job. I even personally witnessed one incident. I was preparing for a “Come See Santa!” event with Amy and a member from the Board, Jacqueline. This should’ve been a jolly ol’ time, yeah? Not quite. When Amy wrongly predicted the amount of guests to show up, she was scorned by Jacqueline, who told Amy that she “can’t do anything right.” To conduct revenge on Amy, the Board took advantage of their position at The Clubhouse to exert power over Amy, making her life more difficult. They acted so demeaning toward her, that she eventually left. After all, they never had the institutional right to fire her, nor did they possess the legal right to destruct property or even physically impair her. However, I’d like to think that they have stronger morals than to want to commit any such heinous acts in the first place. Nevertheless, when they drove Amy out, they immediately hired a new community manager.

In the meantime, the neighborhood rallied to get Amy’s job back. After the rumors of “bullying” that circled the neighbors, the residents decided to take their own stance of nonviolent resistance. The neighbors were upset with the change of managers, for they saw the injustice that lied behind this situation. They demonstrated their support for Amy through entries in the newspaper, proclaiming that the Board was only interested in obtaining more power. Through neighborhood board meetings, residents even voiced their opinions to large crowds of neighbors about the situation. They also took the civil approach of a written petition, in favor of rehiring Amy. Fortunately for the residents, they had the resources and proper structure to have their voice recognized. They didn’t have to break any established laws within the institution, in order to call attention to the unjust change that occurred. Contrary to the Civil Rights Movement as Martin Luther King Jr. addresses in “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, the neighborhood residents didn’t have to struggle to voice their opinion. They weren’t refused help, unlike the African Americans who conducted sit-ins when they were denied service at a restaurant.

When we take a closer look at the institutions that we are involved in, we begin to better understand how they function. We witness how members of these institutions face an issue, recognize the dynamics of this issue, and then work to change the situation. Although I witnessed community action through The Clubhouse, I surely didn’t witness the uses of nonviolent resistance that shaped our nation as we know it today. However, I noticed how the Board’s use of nonviolent resistance to propel my manager from her job resulted in the nonviolent resistance of my neighbors. The Board’s resistance to keep Amy as the community manager was unjust, for making her job unnecessarily difficult to execute. As a result of community action, the residents’ voices were heard, and a meeting was initiated to vote on the rehire of Amy. After a few months, Amy was rehired, and all five members on the Board of Directors were removed and replaced.  Within the institution of The Clubhouse, both the residents and the Board demonstrated how nonviolent resistance can be used for the good of a cause… and sometimes, for unjust objectives.

Neighbors have to stick together against “evil”