Short Answer Week 6&7

We learned in lecture this week that Gandhi believed that active non-violence was the willingness to inflict violence only on one’s self and to never commit violence, even on those who harm you. He believed that people must accept the violence that is committed towards them so the people who commit the violence recognize their inhumanity. This is a hard concept to accept in America, and other places around the world. Active non-violence is challenged because it does not fit with our ideas of national sovereignty and national rights. Our countries history is built on people defending their rights against the government at all costs, even the use of violence, which Gandhi believed was a tactic of failure. We consider mutually returned violence to be a form of justice for wrongs committed against us. Because we have so much mutually returned violence in our history it has become a part of our culture and therefore much harder to replace with active non-violence.

It was made clear in lecture that active non-violence is not for the weak or cowardly. Non-violent activists must be willing to put themselves in harms way no matter what, and never return violence, no matter what. I believe that Gandhi’s contributions to social movements are still tenable today because technology has given them the potential to be even larger and known by more and therefore more effective. While it is hard not to defend one’s right to defend themselves, especially against violence, defending yourself with the use of violence is ultimately adding the intensity of the situation. As for an alternative to violence and non-violence, I don’t know what other options an oppressed group would have. A State power is not likely to give up its control without a fight and may take special measures to keep people of the oppressed group out of positions of power in government. It also may not be possible for people to leave the area controlled by the State because they are not allowed to leave or cannot afford to. People trapped in these situations can take action in a non-violent way, allowing the government to punish them as they will and hope they realize the inhumanity in their ways, fight back, risk trying to escape or endure their oppressed life.

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