Honouring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Today we share with you an excerpt from Martin Luther King’s essay on Henry David Thoreau’s “On Civil Disobedience.” Women’s March Global follows the Kingian principles of nonviolent resistance. As we move forward to our one year anniversary event: Look Back, March Forward, we encourage all members of this resistance to read and uphold these principles — for it is the upholding of these values that will allow us to fight for the collective liberation of all people worldwide.
“…During the days of the Montgomery bus boycott, I came to see the power of nonviolence more and more. As I lived through the actual experience of this protest, nonviolence became more than a useful method; it became a way of life.
Nonresistance attacks the forces of evil rather than the persons who happen to be doing the evil. As I said to the people of Montgomery: “The tension in this city is not between white people and Negro people. The tension is at the bottom, between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And if there is a victory, it will be a victory not merely for fifty thousand Negroes but a victory for justice and the forces of light. We are out to defeat injustice and not white persons who may be unjust.”
It must be emphasized that nonviolent resistance is not for cowards. Nonviolent resistance does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the weapons of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. That is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight. He made this statement knowing that there is always another choice we can make: There is the way of nonviolent resistance. No individual or group need submit to any wrong, nor need they use violence to right a wrong. This is ultimately the way of the strong man.
The nonviolent resistance of the early Christians shook the Roman Empire. The nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi and his followers had muzzled the guns of the British Empire in India and freed more than three hundred and fifty million people from colonialism. It brought victory in the Montgomery bus boycott.
The phrase “passive resistance” often gives the false impression that this is a sort of “do-nothing method” in which the resister quietly and passively accepts evil. But nothing is further from the truth. For while the nonviolent resister is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his minds and emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong — constantly seeking to open the eyes of blind prejudice. This is not passive nonresistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
Nonviolence does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding. The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. To strike back in the same way as his opponent would do nothing but increase the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate.
In the final analysis all life is interrelated. All humanity is involved in a single process, and all men are brothers. To the degree that I harm my brother, no matter what he is doing to me, to that extent I am harming myself. Why is this? Because men are brothers. If you harm me, you harm yourself.
For more information and history on Martin Luther King visit: The King Center
Women’s March Global honours the legacy and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King by working for the collective liberation of all people. This year, as we mobilise again for our anniversary event, let us reaffirm our commitment to upholding the rights of women of all backgrounds, ethnicities, faiths, ages, immigration statuses, sexual orientations, gender identities, disabilities, occupations and socioeconomic statuses.