Non Violence Argument Essay Template

All through history governments and empires have been overthrown or defeated primarily by the violence of those who oppose them. This violence was usually successful however, there have been several situations, when violence failed, that protesters have had to turn to other methods. Non-violent protesting never seemed to be the right

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course of action until the ideology of Mohandas Gandhi spread and influenced successful protests across the world. Non-violent methods were successfully used, most notably, by Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela.

Mohandas Gandhi’s methods not only led to India’s independence from Britain but also had victories over racial discrimination in South Africa. Gandhi saw, upon his return to India from South Africa, that Britain had run India’s people into poverty and subordination. Indians were not allowed to manufacture or own their own salt. This affected the poor population most because of how often they used salt. Gandhi began by writing to the English Governor in India describing his plan to “convert the British people through nonviolence and [to] make them see the wrong they have done to India” (Document 1).

He felt that the “British rule [was] a curse”. Even though Gandhi spent a total of 2.338 days in prison, he “did not feel the slightest hesitation in entering the prisoner’s box” (Doc. 7). People followed Gandhi in his protests and many followed him into jail feeling “firm in [their] resolution of passing [their] terms in jail in perfect happiness and peace” (Doc. 7). While he was in jail, Mme. Naidu, an Indian poetess, filled in his position in leading protests. She encouraged the protesters by reiterating that “[they] must not use any violence… [they would] be beaten but [they] must not resist…not even raise a hand to ward off blows” (Doc. 4). The author felt that “the western mind finds it difficult to grasp the idea of nonresistance”, but this was not the case.

Just 25 years later Martin Luther King, Jr. found his own kind of victory using Gandhi’s techniques. King began his career of peaceful protests as a follower, not a leader. In 1960, he “toke part

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in the lunch counter sit-ins” in order to “bring the whole issue of racial injustice under the scrutiny of the conscience of Atlanta” (Doc 2). King hoped to help not just the African-American population but the white population as well. By 1963, King had been chosen as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference which sought to aid in the efforts to put an end to segregation. He accepted “volunteers to serve in [their] non-violent army” knowing that they would have to “accept and endure violence without retaliating” (Doc. 5).

Their will to fight was from “the conviction that [they] were right”. King’s followers were so empowered that, for their participation in the Montgomery bus boycott, “people had rushed down to get arrested… [they] were now proud to be arrested for the cause of freedom” (Doc. 8). King got white and blacks to work together for the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” (Doc. 11). He wanted them to ‘b able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood”.

Nelson Mandela used the same “Gandhian principles of nonviolence…that seeks to conquer through conversion” (Doc. 3). He lived under the strict laws of apartheid that separated the white Dutchmen from the native African population. In similar circumstances as M.L. King, Mandela supported the same acts of nonviolence in order to gain rights for South Africans. He knew that “attempts at violence…would be devastatingly crushed” under the power of the state. At his protests in Johannesburg in 1952, he knew that “the authorities would seek to intimidate, imprison, and perhaps attack [them]” (Doc. 6) however, like Gandhi, he encouraged the volunteers not to retaliate.

Mandela spent 26 years and 8 months in jail as punishment for his protesting however, he felt that “no sacrifice was too great in the struggle for freedom” (Doc. 9). He spent time in jail with other protesters that all felt that “whatever sentences [they] received, even the death sentence… [their] deaths would not be in vain” (Doc. 9). Freedom for the South African people from apartheid finally came in 1993. To Mandela this was not just the freedom of his people but “the freedom of all people, black and white” (Doc. 12). “South Africa’s New Democracy” rose after years of continuous nonviolence from the populace.

Gandhi, King, and Mandela each fought for their causes with a method that was very rarely used but even less rarely successful. Their efforts at
peaceful protest without retaliation to attacks were successful in overthrowing trans-continental rule and ending segregation of races. Gandhi transformed the idea of non-violence into a way to fight for freedom and justice which would ultimately end in success and peace.

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Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts

  1 Samurisar

Free nonviolence papers, essays, and research papers. There is a considerable debate about the precise meaning of nonviolence. Some people believe that nonviolence is a philosophy not nonviolence “works”. Many societies, and this without question includes the United States, have mostly relied on violent tactics. Wish to become an “A” Student? Argumentative essay is your ticket, and we will share the top winning topic ideas for your perfection. Question 1. (Suggested time—40 minutes. This question counts for one-third of the total essay section score.) Many high schools, colleges, and universities have honor codes or honor Your argument should be the focus of your essay. .. choices Chavez makes to develop his argument about nonviolent resistance.

Nonviolence and Peace Movements: Crash Course World History 228

HOW TO SELECT DEBATABLE ARGUMENTATIVE TOPICS TO DISCUSS

A. Dugan

September 2003

"The means are the ends in embryo." -- Mohandas K. Gandhi

"Not peace at any price, but love at all costs." -- Dick Sheppard

If asked for an example of nonviolent action, one is likely to mention Gandhi, or Effects Of Traffic Jam Essay Luther King, Jr., and maybe Rosa Parks. Strong and courageous people whose effective movements resulted, respectively, in Indian independence from decades of British rule, and the initial steps toward freeing African-Americans from decades of discrimination.

Such well-known cases notwithstanding, most of us tend to think of nonviolence as ineffectual, the weapon of the weak. We stand with Mao in presuming that "power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

The source of the problem lies Essay About Jesus Christ Death in the way the words are structured -- defining the concepts in terms of what they are not. Nonviolence and nonviolent action, by their appearance, simply mean "not violence" and "not violent action." It is a short mental jump to presume that they are everything violence and violent action are not. And, since the latter are associated with force, power, and strength, the former must be the absence of these attributes.

The situation is further complicated by a confusion of like-sounding terms -- nonviolence (as a philosophy or lifestyle) and nonviolent action. Before discussing the potential contribution of nonviolent action to the constructive termination of intractable conflict, it helpful to clarify our central terms and their relationship to one another.

Nonviolence as Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts and Lifestyle


Additional insights into nonviolence are offered by Beyond Intractability project participants.

Pacifism is a philosophy which, in its absolutist form, proposes that "all forms of violence, Essays On Dehumanization In Night, and/or killing are unconditionally wrong. The proposed ideal is that social Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts should be completely nonviolent and peaceful."[1] In conditional pacifism, nonviolence is still the ideal, but violence may be justified under certain, typically extreme, circumstances. Self-defense in the face of attack may be Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts, but one should nonetheless do what one can to minimize Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts harm inflicted on the perpetrator.

While pacifism Jasper Vs Birt Comparison Essay simply be Email Cv Cover Letter Uk of a broader humanist philosophy, it is most often associated with a large number of religious traditions. The Christian peace denominations such as the Quakers and the Mennonites have a rejection of violence as a core component, as do a number of non-Christian traditions such as the Jains. The Great Peace of Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts Iroquois is based on values of caring, citizenship, co-existence, fairness, integrity, reasoning, and respect.[2] Additionally, there are significant pacifist traditions in more mainstream religions such as Judaism, Islam, and Catholicism.

It is beyond the scope of this paper to describe the pacifist traditions of the world's religions individually, let alone in detail. But they share a key central value -- that life is precious and that it is not the right of any person to take the life of another. Some extend this mandate beyond human life to all animal life forms. This results in a range of behavior from vegetarianism to soft-spokenness, from withdrawal from society to active against war and Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts death penalty.

The focus of religious nonviolence is not necessarily directed at the broader society. The main concern is often with one's own spiritual wellbeing. This may simply require one to avoid engaging in violent behavior oneself, maybe even at the extreme of not defending oneself from attack. On the other hand, many pacifist traditions encourage believers to work to end war and other forms of violence.

Indeed, the directive to "Love thine enemy" is often married to a hope of affecting the opponent. "If through love for your enemy you can create in him respect or admiration for you, this provides the best possible means by which new idea or suggestion to him will become an auto-suggestion within him, and it will also help nourish that auto-suggestion."[3] For Gregg, the goal of nonviolence is to convert the enemy.

The opponent, caught off guard by one's refusal to initiate violence or even to reciprocate violence, may come to question Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts own behavior or stance. Gregg calls this "moral jiu jitsu." While it may seem fanciful to think that one's commitment to nonviolence can have this impact, many case studies have shown that this is sometimes the case, particularly when the commitment is constant over time.

One such case concerns Vykom in Travancore ProvinceIndia.[4] Under India's caste system, Brahmins (the upper caste) and Untouchables (the lowest caste) were kept apart in a variety of ways. In this case, "Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts" were not allowed to walk on a road that passed in front of a Brahmin temple, but had to walk a lengthier route to their own homes. At its outset, Hindu reformers walked with Untouchables down the road and stood in front of the temple. Protestors were beaten, arrested, and jailed. The Maharajah ordered the police to prevent reformers and Untouchables from entering the road. They shifted their tactics to standing prayerfully in front of police, seeking entry, but not attempting to disobey the directive. Participants stood on the road in shifts of several hours each, weathering the monsoon season during which the water level reached their shoulders. After 16 months, centuries of segregation came to an end as the Brahmins announced simply, "We cannot any longer resist the prayers that have been made to us and we are ready to receive the Untouchables."

A less-cited case, which demonstrates moral jiu jitsu on a personal level, involved a young man named Eddie Dickerson. Dickerson joined a group of other young men in attacking "Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts" group of CORE (Congress on Racial Equality) protestors who were attempting to integrate lunch counters in a nearby town on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Returning home after the beating, he found himself haunted by the nonviolent response of those whom he had beaten. He left his friends and walked several miles to the church at which the CORE volunteers were staying to pose the question, "Why didn't you hit back?"

Their behavior and their answers to his question caused him to begin to question both his violent behavior and even segregation itself. His family Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts him out of the house, but he continued his exploration, ending up working for CORE himself. "I don't have any doubts no more. I feel pretty University Of Edinburgh Dissertation Archive that everyone -- no matter what color skin he has -- should have equal opportunities. God meant it that way. And it don't make sense to beat them up so they'll believe it. It has to be done by nonviolence if it's going to work."[5]

In some faith traditions, nonviolent action becomes a moral imperative in the face of rampant social injustice. Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff discusses the need to resist that form violence, which he labels "originating violence."

  • Originating violence has its roots in the elite institutions of power, in a social structure that protects the interests of the dominant groups, and in the extreme right, which will not tolerate any social change out of fear of losing its privileged status. As a result many countries of the Third World are in the grips of state terrorism.[6]

Such structural violence demands a response; it is morally imperative to strike against it. Rather than retaliatory violence or even revolutionary violence, however, Boff suggests nonviolent action. Through it, we avoid becoming accomplices of injustice by refusing the status quo; yet Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts our own human dignity by refraining from violence. He propounds a mistica underlying nonviolent struggle:

  • The mistica of active nonviolence implies changing ourselves as well as Free Personality Essay to change the world. We must live the truth. We must be just, our integrity transparent. We must be peacemakers. It is not enough simply to confront external violence. We must also dig out the roots of violence in our own hearts, in our personal agendas, and in our life projects. In both a personal and a political sense we must seek to live today in miniature what we are seeking for tomorrow.[7]

Gandhian Nonviolent Action

Gandhian nonviolence is based on religious principles drawn from a diversity of scriptures, particularly the Bhagavad Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts,the Bible, and the Koran. Gandhi looked toward higher authority for absolute truth. His central concept, Satyagraha, translated both as "truth seeking" and "soul force," presupposed that the activist could learn from the opponent and vice versa. Truth could neither be achieved nor disseminated by force. Therefore, the concept of ahimsa was also key to the satyagrahi (the person engaged in truth seeking). While ahimsa is typically translated "nonviolence," it is not encumbered in the original transcript by the negative construction and connotation of the English word.

The Indian independence movement Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts over a period of almost three decades, and involved thousands of Indians from all walks of life. Despite its size and duration, it remained almost uniformly nonviolent. Even when law enforcement agents resorted to violence, even when protestors were beaten and/or imprisoned, they themselves eschewed violence.

According to Paul Wehr, Gandhi was able to keep the Indian independence movement from lurching out of control (and possibly becoming violent) through a number of strategies:

  • A "step-wise"[8] process. Gandhian campaigns began with negotiation and arbitration, during which he worked not only on the issues in dispute, but also on developing a cooperative relationship with the British officials involved. If the conflict was not resolved at this state, the satyagrahis prepared for nonviolent action including "agitation, ultimatum, Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts boycott and strikes, noncooperation, civil disobedience, usurpation of governmental functions and the creation of parallel government."[9]
  • Commitment to nonviolence. Each participant in a Gandhian campaign had to make a personal and absolute commitment to nonviolence. According to Wehr, "[i]t was primarily because of this personalized self-control that such a massive movement developed with surprisingly little violence."[10]
  • Controlling the dynamics of escalation. Gandhi avoided common precipitators of escalation. For example, he tied each campaign to a single issue and thus avoided proliferation of issues or parties. He put an emphasis on developing personal relationships with opponents, and thus refrained from the tendency to move from confrontation to antagonism. By announcing all intended moves, he minimized the possibility of information becoming distorted.

Looking at the Indian independence movement from the vantage of the 21stcentury, it may not seem to be as significant an achievement as it was at the time.Colonial governance is an anachronism in our time, scorned for its non-recognition of peoples' rights to self-governance. Things were must different in the early 20th century, however. Half of the world's peoples lived in territories controlled by other powers. In the 1940s, Britain took great pride in its empire, the result of almost three centuries of conquest, acquisition, and effective colonial administration.

King's Nonviolent Action

It is not surprising that, like Gandhi's, Martin Luther King Jr.'s decision to utilize nonviolence was based on religious principles. In fact, King discovered the use of nonviolent action as a political tool through learning about Gandhi's success in India.

King's approach was specifically Christian in orientation, drawing on his own status as a minister and the centrality of the Church in the lives of the Montgomery, Alabama, African-Americans who were the first protestors he led. His speeches utilized the inspirational crescendo structure of African-American sermonizing and he typically used biblical themes in them. This provided a deeper source of unity than the specific issue at hand and his able lieutenants were drawn from the rolls of black preachers.

Like Gandhi's, King's methods were also "step-wise." The King Center lists six:

  • Step One. Information gathering
  • Step Two. Education
  • Step Three. Personal commitment
  • Step Four. Negotiations
  • Step Five. Direct action
  • Step Six. Reconciliation[11]

As with Gandhi, the process is step-wise, creating opportunities for resolution without confrontation and ensuring that both proponents and adversaries have sufficiently accurate information to make decisions both about the issue and the process.

Nonviolent Action as a Political Strategy

While faith- or philosophy-based nonviolence often leads to political change, one can also look at nonviolence from a purely strategic vantage point.This is the view of Gene Sharp, the preeminent cataloguer of nonviolent "Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts." As described above, moral jiu jitsu operates by generating questions within the adversary who comes to a change of heart in the course of this process. Sharp, on the other hand, refers to "political jiu jitsu."

By combining nonviolent discipline with solidarity and persistence in struggle, the nonviolent actionists cause the violence of the opponent's repression to be exposed in the worst possible light.[12]

According to Sharp, non-violent action acts in three ways to change opponents' behavior:

  • Conversion
  • Accommodation
  • Coercion

Conversion involves a change of heart in the opponent to the point where the goals of the protestors are now her/his own. At the other extreme, in coercion, the opponent has had no change of heart or mind, "Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts" acquiesces to the demands of the protestors because s/he feels there is no choice. In between is accommodation, probably the most frequent mechanism through which nonviolent action is effective.

In the mechanism of accommodation the opponent resolves to grant the demands of the nonviolent actionists without having changed his mind fundamentally about the issues involved. Some other factor has come to be considered more important than the issue at stake in the conflict, and the opponent is therefore willing to yield on the issue rather than to risk or to experience some other condition or result regarded as still more unsatisfactory.[13]

A Gandhian approach suggests that conversion is the appropriate goal of nonviolence. Not all nonviolent action proponents, however, Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts to this standard. On the other extreme there are those whose only concern is achieving the Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts goal and the most effective and/or expeditious way of getting there. In between are those who prefer conversion where possible, but not at the cost of significantly prolonging the struggle or participants' suffering.

Sharp defines three major categories of nonviolent action:

  • Protest and Persuasion. These are actions that highlight the issue in contention and/or a desired strategy for Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts to the situation. Specific methods Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts petitions, leafleting, picketing, vigils, marches, and teach-ins.
  • Noncooperation. Protestors may refuse to participate in the behavior to which they object socially, economically, and/or politically. Specific "Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts" include sanctuary, boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience.
  • Nonviolent intervention. This category includes techniques in which protestors actively interfere the activity to which they are objecting. Specific methods include sit-ins, fasts, overloading of facilities, and parallel government.

In general, the level of disruption and confrontation increases as one moves from protest and persuasion to intervention. If the protestors' goal is Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts convert, "protest and persuasion" is likely to be the most appropriate category from which to choose. If the protestors wish to force their opponents to change their behavior, they will probably need to include nonviolent intervention methods in their overall strategy. Those who are seeking accommodation might best mix protest and persuasion tactics with noncooperation if the former are not having the desired impact.

When arranging nonviolent action, it is particularly important to consider the audience. A rally may serve to inspire the already committed (sometimes it is important to "speak to the choir"), but is not likely to change minds; a boycott of a What Is The Value Of Using Examples In An Essay provided by someone who has not been educated about the issues in Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts is likely to produce an unnecessary level of resentment.George Lakey and Martin Oppenheimer offer a particularly helpful way of looking at this issue. They point out that any person or group can be categorized according to where she, he or it stands in regard to Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts issues:

  • Active proponents
  • Active supporters
  • Passive supporters
  • Neutral
  • Passive opponents
  • Active supporters of the opposition
  • Active opponents[14]

They then make the point that one's aim in any action should be to move the target population up one notch.

Whatever criteria are chosen to assess possible tactics before embarking on them, nonviolent actionists would do well to imitate their military counterparts at least in the following categories: careful planning and discipline of participants. With Chemical Engineering Cover Letter Internship Inquiry, nonviolence may be just as Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts to be successful in a conflict as violence, and is Attention Getters For Informative Essays Online less likely to cause much increased hostility, escalation, and backlash.


[1] Moseley, Alex. "Pacifism," Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/p/pacifism.htm. Accessed 10/15/02.

[2] http://www.greatpeace.org/; http://www.peacemagazine.org/archive/v04n6p06.htm.

[3] Gregg, Richard B. The Power of Nonviolence. The Rev. Ed. Nyack, NY: Fellowship Publications, 1959, p. 50.

[4] http://www.progress.org/archive/vv12.htm; Sharp, Gene. The Politics of Nonviolent Action. Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, 1973.

[5] Robbins, Jhan and Rune Robbins. "Why Didn't They Hit Back?" in A. Paul Hare and Herbert H. Blumberg, eds., Nonviolent Direct Action; "Non Violence Argument Essay Prompts" Cases: Social and Political Analyses, Washington, D.C.: Corpus Books, 1968, pp. 107-127, p. 126.

[6] Boff, Leonardo. "Active Nonviolence: The Political and Moral Power of the Poor. Forward to Relentless Persistence: Nonviolent Action in Latin America. Philip McManus and Gerald Schlabach, eds., Gabriola Island, B.C.: New Society Publishers, 1991, pp. vii-xi, p. vii

[7] Ibid., p. ix

[8] Wehr, p. 57

[9] Wehr, p. 58

[10] Wehr, p. 59

[11] http://www.thekingcenter.com/prog/non/6steps.html, accessed Oct. 30, 2002.

[12] Sharp, Gene. The Politics of Nonviolent Action. Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, 1973, p. 657.

[13] Ibid., p. 733

[14] list modified from Oppenheimer, Martin and George Lakey. A Manual for Direct Action. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1965. A similar (though somewhat different) list is presented in the ICKB essay Intra-Party Differences


Use the following to cite this article:
Dugan, Máire A. "Nonviolence and Nonviolent Direct Action." Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: September 2003 <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/nonviolent-direct-action>.


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