Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Non-violent Resistance is Misunderstood

I had a discussion with a friend today that got me to thinking about the issue of non-violence as a means to change unjust situations.

Many people think that what Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught and stood for was passivity in the face of attack.

What Gandhi and King stood for, taught and practiced was "Non-violent RESTISTANCE to Evil." This is anything but passive.

What these great men demonstrated was that you MUST stand against injustice, oppression and violent attacks. You must STAND up. You must refuse to obey with unjust rules and laws. They taught that you must refuse to go along with acts that support and sustain discrimination or racism.

There is nothing passive about resistance. These acts - to refuse to comply with injustice and evil motives of the powerful - require more courage than picking up a stick and fighting back with violence.

The beauty of the non-violent resistance approach is that the abused/oppressed resistor is clean in the struggle. It is easier to expose the dastardly deeds of the aggressor and the oppressor, when the victim STANDS AGAINST the propagator, and does not use violence to fight back.

When an oppressed person or group responds to their oppression with violence, it is easier for the oppressor to justify their acts. They can turn the tables and try to make it look like the victim gives them no choice but to be violent and abusive. Look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for a good example of this.

Non-violent resistance is not about just sitting down, doing nothing, and allowing others to beat on you. It is about standing up to them when they come, taking the beating, and letting the inhumanity and the bestiality of their behavior convict them in the eyes of all decent human beings.

That is how India gained its Independence from British Colonial rule. The Indians, under Gandhi's leadership, burned their ID cards, refused to honor laws making Indian's second class citizens in their own country, making salt when it was prohibited for Indians to do so. They took ACTIONS that defied the British colonial rule of their country. They were arrested, beaten, imprisoned... and ultimately, they prevailed.

Apartheid is no more in South Africa, for the same reason.

When the world finally wakes us to unprovoked and hideous injustice, they finally end it. But when there is blame to be shared by both sides, it takes longer to reveal the true villian.

That is the way we change the world.

Not by warring. Not by doing nothing.

There is nothing PASSIVE about Non-violent resistance to evil.

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