Annie B. Bond’s article Martin Luther King Jr.’s 6 Facts About Non-Violent Resistance got me thinking about the practical tactics of non-violence. How may non-violence be used to further the struggle for human rights?
The non-violent philosophy is a powerful tool for social change. Rejecting both passive acceptance of oppression and physical violence against it, practitioners of non-violence use diverse methods such as critical persuasion, civil disobedience and mass education.
Dr. Martin Luther King, inspired by Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi, used non-violent methods in his struggle to win civil rights for all Americans. In an article for The Sun, staff writer Jeff Massie says, “In a turbulent time of the American story, Dr. King proved that the words of one man and the teaching of non-violent resistance can inspire the masses in such a way that the world would be different forever.”
Critical persuasion aims to change the course of action of an organization. Speeches, demonstrations and destruction of one’s own property are the tools of persuasion. Critical persuasion pressures key people and organizations within unjust systems to affect social change.
Civil disobedience involves the purposeful withholding of cooperation from unjust systems. The goal is to stop or damage an industry, political system or economic process. Methods of civil disobedience include strikes, boycotts and tax refusal.
The purpose of mass education is to raise awareness of an issue, such as human rights violations, among the general population. Means of education include slogans, publications and multi-media presentations. Raising awareness involves a great deal of work, but yields a large number of positive returns.
All of these methods, and more, should be utilized in the struggle for human rights. Through the application of practical non-violence, we can change our world for the better.
The Conflict Research Consortium of the University of Colorado offers a website for those who want to learn more.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Rosseel http://www.morguefile.com/archive/?display=199921