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Question – Do you agree with Martin Luther King’s statement “Non-violence is not slavery-like inaction but a powerful moral force that helps in social change.” – 13 June 2021
- The conflicts in the society are as old as the society itself. In any society or nation-state, the resolutions of conflict, and restoration of normalcy is a cyclic process, which can be controlled by inculcating the values of coexistence and syncretism among the citizens. Where a society is rooted in principles of nonviolence, resolving conflict at its incipient stage and controlling it in its escalated state becomes easier.
- ‘Non-violence’ as an ideology and as a practice is not a new concept. It is as old as the tenets of Buddhism and as new as the latest UN initiatives. It is as widespread as the underlying force against racism and as personal as individual choice. Societal or individual, principles of non-violence are a potent force for resolving conflict as well as for better directing social change.
- The principle of non-violence, or non-violence itself, has had a wide impact as a means of countering social and political injustice.Mohandas Gandhi successfully employed non-violent civil disobedience to free India from British imperialism;Martin Luther King used nonviolent resistance in the civil rights movement against discriminatory laws in the United States.
- The principle of non-violence was also important in ending apartheid in South Africa.On the world stage, non-violent resistance is routinely employed as a peaceful means to resist social and political change and the option of brutal confrontation.
- The above statement was used by Dr. Martin Luther King in his 1964 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. He acknowledged the potential of non-violence in social change, as it provided answers to important political and ethical questions that were raised from time to time.
- Non-violence is a personal attempt not to harm oneself and others in every situation.But in any sense, it does not mean inaction; rather it is a dynamic live force that generates a feeling of tolerance and sacrifice.It is based on the fact that non-violence is a virtue of a strong man, not of the weak – that is, forgiving is a virtue of a strong person and a weak person cannot forgive.
- Ahimsa acts in a calm, subtle, invisible form and transforms the entire society.
- It empowers a person’s soul to face autocracy. In modern times, it is the largest moral force for the administration of mankind and an influential tool for revolutionary socio-political change and justice. Gandhiji had said that non-violence acts instead of inflicting physical harm on the basic spirit of autocracy. The changes brought by it are more permanent.
- No one can defeat non-violence. It has no boundaries and applies to every aspect of life. Even the establishment of a group of non-violent resisters does not require much money to be spent.
On the other hand, violent change provides neither a guarantee of success nor long-term peace. Violence can only destroy society; it cannot manufacture or change it. Several examples from the French Revolution to present-day Vietnam, Korea, and the Arab-Israeli conflict attest to this fact. Violence never acquires the necessary moral rights to bring about appropriate social change.