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Cesar Chavez: A Model of Men’s Nonviolence

If you walk into my home office you will see two posters one of Emiliano Zapata and the other of Cesar Chavez. Both of these men struggled for the rights of the poor and oppressed and organized movements that changed society; however, the tactics they used to achieve this social change differed greatly. As we approach his birthday on March 31, I would like to reflect on the example of change set forth by Cesar Chavez.

Chavez once said:

Nonviolence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak nonviolence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.

No one lived these words better than the man himself. Cesar Chavez modeled a deeper meaning of nonviolence, not just as a way of acting but as a basic principle of life. He realized that in order to change the world, he had to be willing to start with himself; therefore, in 1962, he resigned from his post of national director of the Community Service Organization and founded the United Farm Workers of America. Influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and the Southern Civil Rights movement, Chavez humbly led the union for more than three decades with nonviolence as the guiding tenet for all of his actions. Even in the face of violent attacks from landowners and growers, Chavez maintained his commitment to nonviolence, organizing and participating in successful strikes and boycotts, as well as fasting for nearly a month on several occasions to send a message to farm workers, who began to speak of responding in kind to the violent assaults against them. Chavez sacrificed personally, going days without eating, earning less than $6,000 a year, never owning a house, and leaving his family with no savings upon his death in April of 1993, but his sacrifice and dedication won fair wages, medical coverage, humane living conditions, and above all dignity and respect for farm workers. Cesar Chavez was an ordinary man who accomplished extraordinary feats, always believing que sí se puede.

Join me in supporting the Cesar Chavez Foundation and the United Farm Workers petition with a donation in honor of Cesar Chavez's birthday. I praise both organizations for their work and encourage others to join their efforts, bringing to life the words of Cesar Chavez:

When you have people together who believe in something very strongly whether it’s religion or politics or unions, things happen. We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.

In this time, when so much emphasis is placed on self-preservation and retaliation, may the words and legacy of Cesar Chavez inspire and challenge us all to become the peace we seek in our community and in the world.

Domestic Violence is a Men's Issue

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The goal of this month is to increase public awareness about the realities of domestic violence and to encourage all individuals to take action by being a part of the solution by preventing violence before it occurs.

Men historically have not been engaged in preventing violence against women and children. Yet, men can play a key role in setting social norms for other men-whether by permitting and perpetrating inappropriate male behavior or, conversely, by promoting more positive attitudes and behavior related to violence against women.

Domestic violence is a serious problem for women, men and children. Nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point. The National Domestic Violence Hotline received 305,685 calls from individuals impacted by domestic violence from around the country in 2017. These are only the individuals who have the courage and strength to come forward for help. There are thousands more who don't come forward out of fear.

This month I encourage all individuals to support the survivors of domestic violence, and I challenge them to be a part of the preventive solution. I believe that men, as fathers, brothers, coaches, teachers, uncles and mentors, are in a unique position to prevent domestic violence through action and conversation.

I invite men of all ages to stand with me as we remember the women who were killed in Texas by domestic violence by wearing purple on October 18, 2018. Together we can prevent domestic violence.

¿Qué es un “machista”?

Machismo – el simple hecho de ésta palabra revuelve un sinfín de emociones. Para algunos, les produce un orgullo de hombre, y para otros, expone a la negatividad y el abuso. Creciendo, asocié ésta palabra con una cosa; la lucha libre. Mi luchador favorito fué Randy “Macho Man” Savage, y después de ver sus muy conocidas movidas en TV, trataba de imitar todo con mi hermano menor y con mi padrastro durante las luchas, demostrando así que yo también podía ser “macho”. En aquel momento, la palabra “macho” personificaba lo que yo quería ser – un luchador que fuese genial, poderoso, fuerte, y en control. Después de todo, éstas características no solo eran la imagen de mi luchador favorito, pero también estaban siendo actuadas en frente de mi por otros hombres en mi propia familia y comunidad. Estaba siendo condicionado a ser un hombre macho o machista, pero ¿qué significa éso? ¿Qué es un machista?

Muchos estudios se han conducido para responder ésta misma pregunta, pero una cadena de respuestas conflictivas aún existen. Por cada conotación de la palabra “macho”, parece haber un debate filosofical. La definición literal, sin embargo, es muy difícil de refutar. En simple terminos, la palabra “macho” significa una cosa – “hombre”. La palabra “machista”, por lo tanto, es actualmente algo redundante porque ser un macho es simplemente ser hombre.

El choque sobre machismo ocurre cuando la gente empieza a identificar ser “macho” con ser “hombre”. Los niños aprenden ser hombres a través del televisor, música, películas, literatura, y más importante, de los hombres que existen en sus vidas. Cuando van creciendo, por lo tanto, cada hombre deberá decider por él mismo que tipo de hombre quiere ser. ¿Pondrá las drogas y el alcohól antes que a su familia ó vendrá entusiásta a su hogar para dedicarle tiempo a su esposa e hijos? ¿Será el esposo que golpea a su mujer así como su padre golpeó a su madre ó será el que tratará a su pareja con igualdad y compartirá las responsabilidades del hogar? ¿Se reunirá con sus amigos para hacer bromas racistas, anti-feministas, u homofóbicas, ó sera el que busca entendimiento para esos que son diferentes a él? ¿Será el que engatuse a otros jóvenes a participar en prácticas chovinistas, ó servirá como un modelo positivo a seguir, desafiando estereotipos tradicionales? Al final, solo él puede decidir.

Para mi, el fanático de la lucha libre, la decisión llegó después de mucho autodescubrimiento. Llegué a la conclusión de abrazar la idea de que ser un macho -es ser un hombre- sin todas las ideas preconcebidas. Hay mucho espacio para el error cuando tienes que descifrar las cosas por tu propia cuenta. Así, aunque tenga una imagen clara de que clase de hijo, hermano, amigo, y esposo quiero ser, aún necesito ayuda y apoyo ocasional de los hombres en mi vida para asegurarme de que mi imagen permanesca enfocada.

Todo hombre necesita pintar su propia imagen de qué clase de hombre quiere ser, y si suficientes hombres pintaran con respeto, entonces tal vez, una gran obra de arte de tolerancia y no-violencia sería creada en nuestras comunidades.

Emiliano has been profiled in the following books: