Martin Luther King’s and Gandhi’s Non-violence
The pacifism/non-violence these icons used should not be a universal truth. The non-violence used by Gandhi and MLK was a method used in correct circumstances. I don’t know if MLK would have used it in all cases, I do know Gandhi would have. If MLK or Gandhi would have tried non-violence in Taliban Afghanistan or Nazi Germany they would’ve been beheaded or gassed and thus ending their great moral movements. Pacifism assumes everyone is good at heart and reasonable, that the oppressor or tyrant only need enlightenment brought about by the suffering of the oppressed. This is rarely true in human history and endangers civilization. The Gandhi quote below proves the naiveté his non-violent pacifistic stance. He directed these words of advice to the suffering of Jews in Germany during the Third Reich.
I shudder to think what the world might look like if Gandhi had been the leader of England and not the proponent of moral violence, Winston Churchill.
“I am as certain…the stoniest German heart will melt [if only the Jews] adopt active non-violence…I do not despair of his [Hitler’s] responding to human suffering even though caused by him.” Gandhi
Granted, civil disobedience works when the goodhearted and reasonable outnumber the evil and unreasonable. It works better than violence although not immediately when you’re dealing with a Winston Churchill or Lyndon B. Johnson because there is a chance to create opportunity for reasoning together when a culture values human life. MLK appealed to the founding fathers’ principle of liberty and pointed this out to the white majority. He used the Constitution against the decedents whose forefathers wrote it. That was simple and brilliant.
The British ruled India, but they were basically civilized people who finally listened. They ‘tolerated’ Gandhi’s active pacifism. They let him slide. But, they knew, based on their own moral standards, that Gandhi held the moral high ground as did King. The British realized, as did Americans with the Civil Rights movement, that they were contradicting what was supposed to be their own values. That’s why it worked.
The philosophy of non-violence or pacifism only works in atmosphere where people are willing to reason. Pacifism will not work against Islamo-fascist, Nazis, drug cartels, or terrorist. I think if you move to a universal stance of non-violence it’s an immoral position and will ultimately result in murder and tyranny.