“As your industry has experienced, our strikers here in Delano and those who represent us throughout the world are well trained for this struggle. They have been under the gun, they have been kicked and beaten and herded by dogs, they have been cursed and ridiculed, they have been stripped and chained and jailed, they have been sprayed with the poisons used in the vineyards; but they have been taught not to lie down and die nor to flee in shame, but to resist with every ounce of human endurance and spirit. To resist not with retaliation in kind but to overcome with love and compassion, with ingenuity and creativity, with hard work and longer hours, with stamina and patient tenacity, with truth and public appeal, with friends and allies, with mobility and discipline, with politics and law, and with prayer and fasting. They were not trained in a month or even a year; after all, this new harvest season will mark our fourth full year of strike and even now we continue to plan and prepare for the years to come. Time accomplishes for the poor what money does for the rich. . . . This letter does not express all that is in my heart, Mr. Barr. But if it says nothing else, it says that we do not hate you or rejoice to see your industry destroyed; we hate the agribusiness system that seeks to keep us enslaved, and we shall overcome and change it not by retaliation or bloodshed but by a determined nonviolent struggle carried on by those masses of farm workers who intend to be free and human.” César Chávez
“‘Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,’ says the Lord.”
Ps. 12:5a NIV
Moving From The Head to The Heart
- Imagine workers treated like this simply because they demanded better wages and freedom from exposure to toxic poisons in vineyards.
- Chávez’s training teaches them to “overcome with love” and through prayer and fasting. Is this what you would expect of striking migrant workers? Is that how you would respond if you were exploited?
- What does it mean, “Time accomplishes for the poor what money does for the rich.”? Why do essential workers have to fight so hard for safe working conditions and reasonable wages?
Abba, help me to notice the exploited workers around me–to see, to care, to help.
For More: Protest Nation, ed. by Timothy Patrick. New York: New Press, 2010.
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