In the 1900s, became a non-violent concept and a strategy to protest against injustice. Peaceful actions have overthrown governments and crippled dictatorships. It can happen again
Through the streets of Havana walks every Sunday a group of women dressed in white. In the wake of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Argentina’s mothers, they have chosen non-violence to make their voices heard – a method that set people free and overthrowing governments.
To defend itself without the use of violence can mean to walk unarmed forward, despite the fact that your way is the armed police or military, prepared to use their weapons. It can also mean years of low-key demonstrations, without knowing if it will ever produce results. It may be that lonely stand in front of a tank or walking arm in arm among the hundreds of thousands of people with a common goal. Whatever it means an act full of courage and conviction. Choosing not to defend himself is one of the strongest man can do – and often fraught with real danger to his own life.
Throughout history, there is a long tradition of non-violence in most cultures, but it was not until the 1900s that non-violence was a concept and an explicit strategy to protest against injustice. Its most famous advocate – and practitioners – is undoubtedly Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It was also he who launched the concept of non-violence.
Gandhi met violence with non-violence
Mahatma Gandhi meant non-violent intervention, thus doing something concrete to counter violence and war, but through peaceful means. He argued that it was not enough to refuse to participate in acts of violence – that one can say is a simplified definition of pacifism – without non-violence means that one must confront the violence and intervention against oppression. His definition is based on the Hindu concept of ahimsa , which means “without violence”, and had a major impact. By using non-violence as a political method, he was not only much attention for their actions, but also spread the concept itself.
Gandhi developed both their non-violent means, and their simple lifestyle during his nearly 20 years as a lawyer in South Africa. There he became the Indian minority advocate against the racist system that later developed into apartheid. Among his main sources of inspiration were the writings of authors Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau, as well as art and architectural writer John Ruskin. When he in 1915 returned to India, he had basically already developed the non-violent methods as with himself as the premier advocate for over 30 years later, would make the country independent.
But it is also important to remember that it actually took so long. To use non-violence as a political method meant a brave and stubborn struggle without guaranteed results. What made Gandhi so special was that he did not despair, but continue to use the same methods, even though it took decades from the time he began the first non-violent demonstration in 1919 to liberation in 1947. That said, he did not despair or that it was only non-violent used. The more time passes the more chose other paths. But Gandhi was non-violence only path to independence. He was so convinced that he in 1922 and even allowed to call off the then extremely successful independence campaign since a mob in a small town to force and violence.
But despite that, there are always new brave people who shoulders the responsibility and continue the fight. It’s about to stand against fear and to stick to what you believe in, no matter what will happen.
Gandhi was convinced that nothing lasting can be built on violence, but that violence creates violence and thus assailants. Therefore his demands on non-violence absolute, which for him meant that he could not even entertain an unkind thought about anyone. He was also convinced of equal value – including women and low caste. Something that eventually was accepted by more and more followers. A contributing factor to Gandhi’s incredible impact was certainly that he lived as he taught. Or as he put it:
– My life is my message.
Violence was never the answer for King
The following decades brought more and more to the Gandhian ideas and learned about non-violence as a concept. One of these was another now well-known political leaders, the eloquent Baptist pastor Martin Luther King Jr.
King became the first major test of strength Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama in 1955, which was initiated when Rosa Parks refused to get up to leave her seat to a white man. King stepped forward as one of the leaders of the boycott, and he and the other protesters soon found favor with the general public, largely because of the King’s principle of never resorting to violence, whatever the acts of violence or other provocations demonstrators themselves were subjected. Non-violence campaign was tough but successful and led to segregation on public transport ceased. King campaign meant not only a great success for the rapidly growing civil rights movement, it also strengthened his personal conviction that non-violence was the only correct method also for future resistance. Along with several other activists, he formed therefore an explicitly non-violent civil rights movement.
The continuing battle was long and hard, and contained both setbacks large and small successes. But King’s stubborn conviction that non-violence was the only way to reach the goal paved the way for one of contemporary history’s greatest manifestations of freedom and equality. On August 28, 1963 gathered a quarter of a million people in Washington to support civil protection law. As with Gandhi’s mass demonstrations in India where most of the participants quite ordinary people – of all colors, ages, genders and professions – for which there was a condition that no one planned to resort to violence. At least not by demonstrators. And the whole manifestation also remained peaceful. The performances followed one another, only to culminate with the Kings now iconic speech on his vision of an egalitarian society, a future he showed with the recurring words: I have a dream . The next year the 35-year-old King Nobel Peace Prize.
Both King and Gandhi was assassinated demonstrates the power of a non-violence campaign and the fear it arouses in the opponent. Although the motives are different murders were a way to silence critical voices. And in many places it is so today.Those who choose to meeting violence with non-violence risk being imprisoned, threatened, persecuted, injured and in the worst cases, murdered. But despite that, there are always new brave people who shoulders the responsibility and continue the fight. It’s about to stand against fear and to stick to what you believe in, no matter what will happen.
Ladies in White march for peace
A nonviolent action can be both a premeditated act as a spontaneous decision to participate in a demonstration example. Both parts require the kind of courage and dedication, but the effort may look very different. For some it is about to participate in a single manifestation, others become non-violent part of everyday life and a way of life. The latter applies for example to the Cuban women who for over twelve years every week marched the same path in their white clothes.
The campaign began in the spring of 2003, two weeks after the 75 male human rights activists, independent journalists and independent librarians arrested by the regime and sentenced to up to 28 years in prison for so-called crimes against the nation. The Sunday were prisoners of conscience wives and other female relatives under the guidance of literature teacher Laura Pollán (whose husband was imprisoned) in Saint Rita’s Church in Havana to pray for the imprisoned. After the fair was the women, who were all dressed in white, from the church to a nearby park.Since then wanders the Damas de Blanco – ie “Ladies in White” – every Sunday the same way, with the demand to release the detained regime critics. That they chose the color white is a symbolic act to remind the Argentine mothers of Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo – that is, “Madres de Plaza de Mayo” – which since 1970 used a similar method to obtain information on their missing children, which was taken away by the military junta.
Others who frequent demonstrates the non-violence movement Girifna in Sudan, whose name means “We’ve had enough. The campaign was launched in 2010 by a group of university students, with the help of demonstrations and other actions by peaceful means would force a democratically elected government that respects human rights and for peace and all the Likas value. Many of the members have been imprisoned or forced to leave the country, but despite this organized ever new non-violent manifestations. One of the youths describe the Swedish Peace website why she still continue the fight:
– I believe that the objectives and means should not be in contrast with each other. If your goal is justice, you must act fairly well. It is a difficult path, the sacrifice is enormous, but it is also a very powerful way to change.
The formulation is her own, but the words could just as well said by Gandhi, King or Pollán. To fight for their own and others’ rights by means of non-violence is a method that shows how important it is to meet violence but for the sake of being violent.Peaceful actions have overthrown governments and crippled dictatorships. It can