Peter Adams became a Level I Nonviolence Trainer at our International Nonviolence Summer Institute last summer and is putting his knowledge to work. He gave an impassioned speech at a Peace & Justice Rally in Luton, England this week.
At a time when terrorists and violent acts have shocked the world, Peter raised his voice to nonviolence and peace in keeping with Dr. King’s vision of a global beloved community.
Peter, Congratulations on such a successful event!
Read his speech below:
Greetings, Assalam alyakum, Shalom, Peace!
We’re here together today united in a heart cry for justice, and with a hope, a dream of peace. We are brothers and sisters in that heart cry, in that hope. Yet too often we are divided. Our history, experienced from different sides, a history of colonialism – of war, cruelty and injustice. A recent history of immigration, often of racism, of segregation, of privilege and deprivation. As well as our cultures & our faiths, have often led to erection of walls between us. Our society has made great efforts to leave the behind the injustices and inequalities, the racism, all to often structurally embedded. Yet the reality is too often the long shadow of injustice & racism casts it’s darkness on too many lives, including many here.
That is why we are here. I am not going to go into the details of each case represented here. There are people here who know them better than me, but be assured I have sat in enough meetings to know each of our Luton cases very well. Every one tragic. Two involving loved ones deeply missed, who shouldn’t have died. No, I am here to say that the wider community of Luton stands together with you in a search for justice and peace. In particular as a Christian leader in this town, I am not content for the ugly presence of racism to be tolerated, allowed to breathe in this community. It’s against everything I, that we, stand for. As churches we stand with you in seeking justice. And peace. By peace I don’t mean a peace that exists by turning a blind eye to injustice for the sake of a quiet life. But a peace that holds because there Is justice for all.
I spoke of a dream. To quote a great man. “I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that dream needs to inspire us, get us out of bed in the morning and sustain us during the late hours. More than anything it needs to shine through when the living nightmare of discrimination fills our lives. We need that dream to guide us as we work for that justice and peace, so that our actions, words, even our thoughts are nonviolent, that all we do is peaceable.
Let’s walk together, as wide a coalition as possible in that quest. There is too much division in this world, in our own community. A million people and more in Paris are making that message clear today. We won’t always agree. But we share a dream. Don’t be surprised at who stands with you. Let’s not make it hard for them to stand with us. Our enemy is not any man or woman, whatever their colour or creed, even their profession. I know that the very large majority in this building beside us [Luton Police Station] long for the same justice and peace as we do. I work closely with them, some are my friends.
Our enemy is the system, the structures that make injustice, racism, discrimination – evil – far too acceptable. There are challenges in working together. I want to use some words of MLK to speak to those like me who’ve not suffered the discrimination that many of you have. “I must confess that I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate … who is more devoted to order than to justice, who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice … who paternalistically feels he can set a timetable for another mans freedom.” “The time is always right to do the right thing.” “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We have to be honest. It’s less likely to be me. I know that. I have not known the discrimination, prejudice, racism, hatred that many have. That doesn’t shut me out of this movement. But it does challenge the way I’m involved. We have chanted. NO JUSTICE NO PEACE. But let’s look beyond that to the dream, to a community that is one where justice and peace are a reality for all.
I have a dream. And we must work together for that dream.
Peter Adams “Luton4Justice” Rally 11th January, 2015 Luton, UK