"True non-violence is mightier than the mightiest violence." Mahatma Ghandi2
A system of non-violent resistance is a way to maintain autonomy (#), individuality (#), and personal freedom (#) by refusing to allow others to control your actions and/or beliefs through force or threat of force as a way of defining justice (#).
If we as a society neglect the value of non-violent resistence we will continue to live under a veil of fear (#) of punishment for upholding the values that we hold as an idividual as well as a society. Non-violent resistence is most powerful when it has the support of the community (#) behind it.
People must stand united in the defense of the values that they believe in while respecting the values of others around them that may be different than their own. This is an everyday occurrence that many times goes unnoticed and underappreciated. It is noticed, however, when violence becomes a means of ignoring the values of others or forcing those who believe in a certain set of values or beliefs to conform to another set of values or beliefs through the use of violence and/or threat of violence.
In 1993, the citizens of Billings used non-violent resistance to end a rash of hate crimes in our community. When the home of Dawn Fast Horse was vandalized and spray painted with swastikas and messages such as “Die Indian Die” the community responded. A group of 30 painters after completing their shifts at the local refinery came to Dawn’s house and painted over the hate messages with donated paint from a local hardware store. When racist skinheads began to come to a local African Methodist Episcopal Wayman Chapel, standing with threatening posture in the back of the church, the community again responded when people of different races and religions began to show up in support of the congregation. Reverend Bob Freeman said “Denomination didn’t count, ethnic background didn’t count, it was just that we were one person all together. And they did rally round us letting them know that hey, if you bite one, you bite us all.” When a brick was thrown through the window of a child’s room because of the picture of the Menorah he had in his window in celebration of Hanukah the town again stood up against hate. The Billings Gazette responded with a full page picture of a Menorah urging the community to post the pictures in their windows in support of the Jewish community. By the end of December 10,000 homes in Billings, both Jewish and non-Jewish, displayed the image of the Menorah in their window.3
So powerful was the message sent by the community of the small town of Billings that it reached others having similar struggles with hate crimes in their communities. Around the nation people began to show mass support for those who fall victim to crime because of their race, religion, or sexual preference. By standing united against these groups such as the Aryan nation we make them the minority and therefore weak.
Mahatma Ghandi said that "You can return blow for blow if you are not brave enough to follow the path of non-violence." This is meant to apply to every aspect of our life. If we respond with violence we will be dealt with using violence in return. This would not benefit mankind in anyway because as the saying goes, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." If we use non-violent resistance throught the use of non-cooperation we can get a strong message accross to those in power that we will not be controlled through fear.
According to Ayn Rand in her essay titled “Reason is Man’s mechanism for Survival”, “In order to sustain its life, every living species has to follow a certain course of action required by its nature. The action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual: everything man needs has to be discovered by his mind and produced by his effort. Production is the application of reason to the problem of survival.”4
Non-violent resistance can apply to all areas of life. If one does not feel that their tax dollars should go towards funding foreign wars which in turn will result in the pain and suffering of innocent people they could stop paying taxes. They will most likely end up in prison as punishment, but they have still chosen for themselves what is right. If the majority of the population came to a consensus that we, as a group, did not want to give away our hard earned money to be spent by the government in frivolous ways in no way benefitting the society as a whole and therefore stopped paying taxes it would be quite hard to house even a percentage of the population and the government would be forced to either resort to martial law or build more prisons to hold the tax evaders.
We as a community of equals need to stand up for our beliefs and our right to freedom of choice in all areas of life. We need to always consider how our actions are going to affect others and strive to create a community free of fear, racism, discrimination, and unjust laws that put limitations on which values we are able to adhere to.
We must teach the importance of standing up for what we believe in from childhood in order to instill in the future generations that we do not have to listen to those in authority if it conflicts with our core values. This means teaching our children to question authority instead of blindly following their guidlines.
By teaching the youth of the power of non-violent resistance we could eventually change the world around us to be a more peacefull (#) place with less hate (#), less discrimination (#), and less violence (#). Through cooperation (#) as a community (#) we could change rules, regulations, and policies that hinder our ability to live as we ought to live, how we choose to live. This would require compassion (#) for our fellow man, sympathy (#) and/or empathy (#) for victims of crime, strength (#) as a community (#) not to succumb to the threats or acts of violence (#) that would attempt to stop the progress of creating a better world, bravery (#) to stand up for what is right when faced with the consequences of doing so.
This would require the help of everyone in the community (#) in order to work most efficiently because there is power in numbers. For example, the more people who oppose a certain issue such as racism the harder it is for racism to endure.
In order for non-violent resistance to be effective we must all come together in a cooperative (#) effort with the participation (#) of all people within the community (#) in order to maintain the dignity (#) and autonomy (#). This would require respect (#) of all lifestyles and beliefs. If we are able to do so we will discover a new type of justice (#) that is not biased and improves rather than hinders the quality of life as we currently know it.