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Principles of Nonviolent Civic Resistance

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“Not one hair of one head of one person should be harmed”, this is the motto of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), presided by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was at the wheel of this instrumental organization.

Dr. King not only witnessed racism and segregation, but experienced it first-hand. Through it all, Dr. King believed that violence should never be utilized for responding to injustice; rather, nonviolent civil resistance should be employed to set in motion constructive movements that help peacebuilding.

I agree with Dr. King, that violence should never be permissible to bring about justice in society; the antidote to injustice is nonviolent civil resistance because of its ability to equip communities to actively engage peacefully and contribute meaningfully in addressing root causes in order to facilitate real change which has been proven in history to also leave enduring legacies.

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In Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, Dr. King astutely pointed out that nonviolent actions are the most effective tools to bring about change, redemption, and reconciliation. The tenets that Dr. King advocated are still very much applicable to today’s society. Case in point, discrimination permeates every facet of society and in America it is still very much alive. Reports in the news of police shootings of black people demonstrates that for no other reason, their skin color are regarded as inherently “suspect”. Not only has it been proven and reported that whenever a black person resist arrest and/or meets violence with violence, the person of authority registers the black person as a threat to peace and order and therefore reaffirms the legitimacy of the violent action taken by the person of authority. If the black person applied nonviolent methods, the person of authority would be put in a decision dilemma-applying pain/violence to the nonresistant black person or capitulate, to correctly apply the rule of law and not use violence. Nonviolence in this example, is used to weaken the validity upon which the oppressor’s power rest. History has established that unarmed masses have conquered armed-to-teeth forces by applying only humble methods such as strikes, sit-ins, boycotts, and occupations that resulted in successfully facilitating social and political change, a no mean feat!

One could argue that nonviolent civil resistance is a form of ineffective unobserved martyrdom that resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews in Germany, and could be construed as a sign of weakness as Nietzsche taught, hence the principle, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” as a means of leveling the playing field and to combat injustice, is a necessary evil that is very much pragmatic.

However, research studies conducted by Chenoweth and Stephan proved that nonviolent resistance strategies are twice as effective compared to violent ones (Robson). Clearly, Dr. King is correct in his stance, that nonviolent civil resistance is a judicious course of action that is necessary for change. In particular, the mobilizations of Women’s March and airport rallies signals that resistance to the administration’s plans is strong; would-be protesters, the silent majority, congress- people who implements policies and the people around the world observing can view an administration’s action with more skepticism. Moreover, such example of nonviolent civil resistance can demonstrate to the people around the world that change is possible without using violence, which can harm humanity and endanger the hope of people who are struggling in the progressive movements of late. What’s more, nonviolent civil resistance can be applied personally as a way of life, for transforming conflict.

Unfortunately, we still live in a time that is both tumultuous and have tremendous suffering. Urgency for change is still high and noise must still be made, and therefore we must recommit ourselves to the tenets of nonviolent civil resistance that Dr. King championed. Unquestionably, opposing every manifestation of violence is the only antidote to injustice and disarm the aggressor.

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Principles of Nonviolent Civic Resistance. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Principles of Nonviolent Civic Resistance.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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Principles of Nonviolent Civic Resistance [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from:
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