Overcoming evil with good

The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him. — Martin Luther King Jr., Stride Toward Freedom (1958)

Mont­gomery, a south­ern city in the USA, in 1955. African Amer­i­cans, who make up the major­i­ty of the pop­u­la­tion, are being treat­ed as sec­ond class cit­i­zens. Because of the so-called Jim Crow laws they have to use sep­a­rate restrooms, restau­rants and schools. In the city bus­es, ‘col­ored’ peo­ple can only use the rear seats. In the event that the ‘white’ por­tion of the bus is full, they have to make room.

One day Rosa Parks takes the bus after a long day at work. She is not only a seam­stress but also the sec­re­tary of the Nation­al Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple. When she is sum­moned to give up her seat to a white pas­sen­ger, it is one time too many. In her own words, she is “tired of giv­ing in”. She remains seat­ed, is arrest­ed and unleash­es the civ­il rights move­ment that will lead to the end of the Jim Crow laws.

Martin Luther King Jr

The black com­mu­ni­ty orga­nizes a boy­cott of the bus­es; Peo­ple walk en masse to work and devel­op a car­pool sys­tem. Mar­tin Luther King Jr., at the time a rel­a­tive­ly unknown Bap­tist min­is­ter, is cho­sen as the leader of the boy­cott.

Mar­tin Luther King only want­ed to use non­vi­o­lent tac­tics, fol­low­ing the bib­li­cal mes­sage and exam­ples like Gand­hi. In the book that King wrote about the Mont­gomery boy­cott — Stride Toward Free­dom — he lists six char­ac­ter­is­tics of non­vi­o­lence. Because tomor­row is the inter­na­tion­al day of non­vi­o­lence, I would like to share this list with you.

  1. Turn­ing the oth­er cheek is not cow­ard­ly or pas­sive, but requires courage and is an act of resis­tance.
  2. Non­vi­o­lence seeks to win the friend­ship and under­stand­ing of the oppo­nent.
  3. It fights against evil, not against evil­do­ers.
  4. If you are com­mit­ted to non­vi­o­lence, you have to be pre­pared to suf­fer with­out retal­i­a­tion. This kind of sur­rering can edu­cate and trans­form. (No emp­ty words from this man!)
  5. Hate is also a form of vio­lence. Non­vi­o­lent actions are moti­vat­ed by love. See the quote above.
  6. Non­vi­o­lence believes that jus­tice will even­tu­al­ly win and that God is a God of jus­tice.

Slight­ly off-top­ic: Mar­tin Luther King is also men­tioned in the below video about the Glob­al Goals for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment. They have arrived!

All that remains for me is to wish every­one a non­vi­o­lent day.