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The Power Of Nonviolent Resistance (Nvr)

1365 words - 5 pages

In 1963, as protest to the authoritarian regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem, Buddhist monks began to go to public places in Vietnam and commit suicide, by drenching themselves in gasoline and setting themselves on fire. They did this as an act of civil disobedience, defined as an act of defiance of specific laws or policies of a formal structure which the individual or group believes to be unjust. The Buddhist civilization in Vietnam was not apparent to the Americans until the Buddhists began sacrificing themselves in Saigon’s public streets. The pictures of the monks engulfed in flames made world headlines and caused American intervention; and later the capture and killing of Diem and his brother. In contrast to these acts of civil disobedience, one can observe the actions of suicide bombers. In the Palestinian territories, those who support suicide bombing claim that it is merely a tactic of war in defense of their land and homes. Without superior weaponry, they see it as “a heroic act of martyrdom, a final act of resistance, stemming from desperation”(Suicide Bombers). Both the Buddhist monks and the “suicide bombers” in Palestine resort to self-sacrificial actions as their form of violent civil disobedience. Violent forms of civil disobedience should only be necessary to counter violence but never if it inhibits upon the liberties of the innocent. By this definition, the actions of the Buddhist monks are more justifiable than those of suicide bombers in the Middle East.
Both the Buddhist monks and suicide bombers resort to violent means to try and enact a certain social change. The Buddhist monks that sacrificed their own lives believed they were just and right in fighting the religiously discriminatory government. If someone believes their fight is just and right and that their life is worth what they believe in, then violence on oneself in acts of civil disobedience is permissible. However, the actions of suicide bombers in the Middle East are not right because their suicides inhibit on the liberties of innocent people.
When contrasting violent and non-violent forms of civil disobedience, one can look at the contrasting doctrines of civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Martin Luther King’s tactics of protest involved non-violent passive resistance to racial injustice. He once said, “unearned suffering is redemptive. Suffering, the nonviolent resister realizes, has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities”(Sylvester). Martin Luther King believed that through non-violently resisting an attacker, the attacker is able to better understand his or her wrongdoing. It is apparent that King borrowed heavily from much of Thoureau’s Civil Disobedience. Thoreau said, “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable” (Thoreau). Martin Luther King believed that the various Jim Crowe...

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