Essay on What Makes A Nonviolent Movement So Powerful?

Essay on What Makes A Nonviolent Movement So Powerful?

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The twentieth century saw the rise and fall of three pivotal figures in the ongoing movement for equality and justice for all peoples. Mahatma Gandhi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all addressed the immoral and unjust actions of drastically different societies, yet all were to enact some degree of social change that would eventually result in an increased quality of life for oppressed members of their nations. A key strategy in their movements was nonviolent resistance, actively resisting unjust laws and practices and largely using only peaceful and non-harmful means to achieve their ends. This begs the question: What makes a nonviolent movement so powerful? Gandhi used nonviolence to change the minds of the British Empire, the most powerful empire in the modern world at the time. Bonhoeffer led many Germans to question the morality and integrity of Nazi practices in a time when most laws and actions were accepted without argument for fear of endangering one’s own life. King led a movement that brought true equality and freedom to African Americans in the United States, a group of people that had so long suffered under the oppression of slavery and prolonged racial discrimination. The effects each of these men had on his society were profound and monumental, but what gave these movements such power? The answer comes in a statement by Dr. Martin Luther King, in which he says, “…face violence if necessary, but refuse to return violence. If we respect those who oppose us, they may achieve a new understanding of the human relations involved,” (Washington 7). Humanity is the key. By forcing the oppressors to recognize the humanity of those whom they oppress, it forces them to question the integrity and morality of th...


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...uestion the immoral and unjust ways in which they had chosen to act. Through a combination of concept agape love with an focus on the humanity of people battling oppression and discrimination, Gandhi, Bonhoeffer, and King all developed and led powerful movements that were successful in creating widespread and lasting social change.

Works Cited
Fischer, Louis. Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World. New York, New York: Signet Classics, 2010. Print.
Kleinhans, Theodore J. Till the Night Be Past: The Life and Times of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2002. Print.
King, Martin Luther, and James Melvin. Washington. I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992. Print.
Thoreau, Henry D. "Civil Disobedience." Civil Disobedience (2009): 1. Academic Search Premier. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

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