That’s how the light gets in

January 25, 2017 GMT

Leonard Cohen’s 1992 album The Future includes the song “Anthem.” The refrain says, “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, made in 1752, has been used as an American symbol of freedom and independence. It was cast with the lettering “Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants Thereof,” a Biblical reference. The Liberty Bell’s casting cracked, was recast twice and cracked again. Somehow the craftsmen could not make the perfect offering. Maybe the Liberty Bell’s large crack is to remind us that flaws exist in everything but the cracks help the light to get in. Are there cracks in America’s structure that are allowing new light to get in? I saw some fresh and inspiring light today.

The Women’s March on Pocatello began Saturday morning, Jan. 20, at Caldwell Park and ended at the Pond Student Union building on Idaho State University’s campus. It was one of 673 sister marches around the world inspired by Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, which aimed to unify those advocating for equal rights. The Women’s March on Washington website states: “In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights.” Millions marched. A symbolic bell was ringing. The actions and voices recounted cracks in national values revealed in the recent election cycle. This movement allows some bright light of principles to shine through.

Women’s rights are human rights, regardless of a woman’s race, ethnicity, religion, immigration status, sexual identity, gender expression, economic status, age or disability. Can we practice empathy with the intent to learn about the intersecting identities of each other? Will we suspend our first judgment and do our best to lead without ego? Can we follow the principles of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolence, which are defined as follows:

Principle 1: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice and utilizes the righteous indignation and spiritual, emotional and intellectual capabilities of people as the vital force for change and reconciliation.

Principle 2: The Beloved Community is the framework for the future. The nonviolent concept is an overall effort to achieve a reconciled world by raising the level of relationships among people to a height where justice prevails and persons attain their full human potential.

Principle 3: Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. The nonviolent approach helps one analyze the fundamental conditions, policies and practices of the conflict rather than reacting to one’s opponents or their personalities.

Principle 4: Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve our goal. Self-chosen suffering is redemptive and helps the movement grow in a spiritual as well as a humanitarian dimension. The moral authority of voluntary suffering for a goal communicates the concern to one’s own friends and community as well as to the opponent.

Principle 5: Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. The nonviolent attitude permeates all aspects of the campaign. It provides a mirror type reflection of the reality of the condition to one’s opponent and the community at large. Specific activities must be designed to maintain a high level of spirit and morale during a nonviolent campaign.

Tip O’Neill, a former U.S. Speaker of the House often said, “All politics are local.” 673 global marches for these principles give validity to the women’s local march on Pocatello. The march is yet another initiative to bring our community together, reveal the cracks we have and let the light get in. Ring the bell you relate to recognizing that none are perfect: Portneuf Valley Interfaith Fellowship, Kind Communities, service clubs, churches, BRIDGES refugee support, ISU P.E.A.C.E. group, SEICAA, Aid for Friends, Family Services Alliance and others. Let the light get in right where we are.

Larry Gebhardt of Pocatello is a retired Navy captain and past president of the Pocatello Centennial Rotary Club.