radical is the new sensible . . .

Got Strategy? Initiating vs. Reacting and Taking Back the Escalation Curve

Rivera-DI-Strategy-EscalationToo often, our movements find themselves reacting instead of initiating the dynamic events of the struggle. Take back the escalation curve by engaging in strategic thinking, foresight, and planning. Don’t wait for your opposition to attack you . . . organize and mobilize in advance of the crisis.

Easier said than done, right? We often feel assaulted and barraged by the flurry of injustices that strike our communities. It’s common to have to run around and put out fires. Consider creating a team to focus on strategic planning while another team organizes to stop the worst of the damages. This is common sense and sound strategic theory. If the military uses it, why can’t our movements?

We need to find ways to give at least some people in our community permission and support to do long range thinking, planning, and envisioning. Even if it seems nearly impossible, see if you can find a way. In 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King traveled to India for a month to study Gandhian nonviolence. Remember, this is after the Montgomery Bus Boycott that propelled Dr. King into the spotlight, in the middle of the sit-in campaigns to desegregate the downtown lunch counters and stores. It’s also right before Albany, GA, the Freedom Rides, and prior to the Selma and Birmingham, AL campaigns, the Mississippi Freedom Summer and Voting Rights campaigns, and the March on Washington.

Taking back the escalation curve and timeline of a struggle requires that we think, strategize, and plan in advance of the opposition. It means that we initiate the campaigns, rather than wait to be attacked. It requires the energy to mobilize and to galvanize our movement into action. Is it easy? Never. Can it be done? Yes.

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ARivera New Hatuthor/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Love (and Revolution) Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She is a trainer and social media coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence and Pace e Bene. Sun attended the James Lawson Institute on Strategic Nonviolent Resistance in 2014 and her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. www.riverasun.com

2 Comments

  1. Laura Ferejohn Laura Ferejohn
    August 24, 2016    

    I recommend the book, Becoming a Citizen Activist, by Nick Licata. It gives solid ideas on community organizing.

  2. May 5, 2019    

    I’ve worked with volunteers in prisons and in a college environment. The primary thing you need is a plan for what the volunteers (participants) will do. The more detailed the better. As you say action is better than reaction and allows you to direct the narrative. Leadership should lead.

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