Alan Greth/Zuma Press (Cesar Chavez)
Today we honor the life and legacy of Cesar E. Chavez. I am inspired by how humble he lived his life. The passion that he demonstrated in the UFW Movement is a struggle that farm workers to this day are waging. Cesar Chavez work had its root in his spiritual formation. He understood the connection between spirituality and activism. It is important to understand that one should not isolate their spiritual teachings with their activism work. Our activism should have some type of spiritual foundation. When working for humanity, it automatically should be a spiritual journey. Many people when engaging in their activism fail to connect spirituality to the work they are doing. They feel that they are including religion. What people fail to understand is that spirituality is separate from religion. In fact, I often tell people that spirituality is as simple as anything that enhances ones’ spirit. I have found that spirituality is always present when trying to make this world a better place. I can’t work for the common good and not recognized the spiritual connections to the work I am doing. Spirituality and Activism are inter-connected. As a former Jesuit Volunteer, I found that this notion of spirituality and activism was best described by St. Ignatius of Loyola as being Contemplative in Action. We are all called to be Contemplatives in Action and Cesar Chavez did a great job at demonstrating that.
There is a Jesuit saying that says: ETAS or in other words, En Todo Amar y Servir (in all, Love and Serve). Cesar Chavez life was guided by ETAS. Below is Cesar Chavez famous prayer. There was a time where I used to read Cesar Chavez prayer on a daily basis before I started my day. May this prayer inspired us and continue to guide us in our quest to making this world a better place for the future generations.
Prayer of the Farm Workers’ Struggle
Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people’s plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me to take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that I can work with other workers.
Bring forth song and celebration;
So that the spirit will be alive among us.
Let the spirit flourish and grow;
So we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;
For they have given us life.
Help us love even those who hate us;
So we can change the world.
Written by Cesar E. Chavez, UFW Founder (1927-1993)
Oracion del Campesino en la Lucha
Ensename el sufrimiento de los mas desafortunados;
Asi conocere el dolor de mi pueblo.
Librame a orar por los demas;
Porque estas presente en cada persona.
Ayudame a tomar responsabilidad de mi propia vida;
Solo asi sere libre al fin.
Concedeme valentia para servir al projimo;
Porque en la entrega hay vida verdadera.
Concedeme honoradez y paciencia;
Para que yo pueda trabajar junto con otros trabajadores.
Alumbranos con el canto y la celebracion;
Para que levanten el Espiritu entre nosotros.
Que el Espiritu florezca y crezca;
Para que no nos cansemos entre la lucha.
Nos acordamos de los que han caido por la justicia;
Porque a nosotros han entregado la vida.
Ayudanos a amar aun a los que nos odian;
Asi podremos cambiar el mundo.
Escrito por Cesar E. Chavez, Fundador de la UFW (1927-1993)
Here are some videos on Cesar E. Chavez. Enjoy.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Cesar E. Chavez:
“Our struggle is not easy. Those who oppose our cause are rich and powerful and they have many allies in high places. We are poor… but we have something the rich do not own. We have our bodies and spirits and the justice of our cause as our weapons.”
“Because we have suffered, and we are not afraid to suffer in order to survive, we are ready to give up everything – even our lives – in our struggle for justice.”
“People who have lost their hunger for justice are not ultimately powerful….The love for justice that is in us is not only the best part of our being but it is also the most true to our nature.”
“Is it so much to ask that the poorest people of the land have a measure of justice?”
“We are confident. We have ourselves. We know how to sacrifice. We know how to work. We know how to combat the forces that oppose us. But even more than that, we are true believers in the whole idea of justice. Justice is so much on our side, that that is going to see us through.”
“We shall strike. We shall organize boycotts. We shall demonstrate and have political campaigns. We shall pursue the revolution we have proposed. We are sons and daughters of the farm workers’ revolution, a revolution of the poor seeking bread and justice.”
“Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.”
“The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.”
“…people think non-violence is really weak and non-militant. These are misconceptions that people have because they don’t understand what non-violence means. Non-violence takes more guts, if I can put it bluntly, than violence. Most violent acts are accomplished by getting the opponent off guard, and it doesn’t take that much character, I think, if one wants to do it.”
“Imagine the National Guard being called against a group of peaceful people. How far can we get; how disgraceful can it become? It’s the most disgraceful, the most wicked thing I’ve seen in all my years of organizing farm labor.”
“Non violence means people in action. People have to understand that with non-violence goes a hell of a lot of organization.”
“Non-violence exacts a very high price from one who practices it. But once you are able to meet that demand then you can do most things.”
“Non-violence is a very powerful weapon. Most people don’t understand the power of non-violence and tend to be amazed by the whole idea. Those who have been involved in bringing about change and see the difference between violence and non-violence are firmly committed to a lifetime of non-violence, not because it is easy or because it is cowardly, but because it is an effective and very powerful way.”
“Violence just hurts those who are already hurt…Instead of exposing the brutality of the oppressor, it justifies it.”
“We are convinced that non-violence is more powerful than violence. We are convinced that non-violence supports you if you have a just and moral cause…If you use violence, you have to sell part of yourself for that violence. Then you are no longer a master of your own struggle.”
“When workers fall back on violence, they are lost. Oh, they might win some of their demands and might end a strike a little earlier, but they give up their imagination, their creativity, their will to work hard and to suffer for what they believe is right.”
CESAR E. CHAVEZ…PRESENTE!!!