Nonviolent Resistance- the Answer to Oppression

Nonviolent Resistance- the Answer to Oppression

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There are many different ways human beings deal with oppression. In his book, Stride Toward Freedom, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. expresses how people handle oppression in three characteristic ways. Acquiescence, violence, or nonviolent resistance are ways the oppressed deal with their oppressors. In King's excerpt, he expresses that nonviolent resistance is the morally and correct way of dealing with oppression. King believed it was only through nonviolent resistance that things would begin to change for the oppressed.

Acquiescence, passive assent or agreement without protest, makes an individual accept his situation and thereby adjusts his lifestyle to accommodate for it. The individual has given up hope for change and has accepted his fate in the world he is living in. In many cases, the individual would rather accept this unjust lifestyle than fight for change. King imparts that this is not the way to handle oppression and is even a way of condoning the unjust behavior. King states, "To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressors," (281). King discloses that the Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressors with this mindset. The oppressor is given complete power over the oppressed who's spirit is crushed.

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King also states that violence is not the answer either in that it brings only momentary results and never achieves permanent peace. "It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers," (282). King is a firm believer in the saying, "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind." King affirms that if the oppressed succumb to the temptations of violence, it is the future generations that will bear the endless reign of meaningless chaos. Here, nothing is accomplished and only instills more hatred in both parties.

King's resolution to fighting oppression is nonviolent resistance. It "seeks to reconcile the truths of the two opposites- acquiescence and violence- while avoiding the extremes and immoralities of both," (282). He communicates that nonviolent resistance agrees with the acquiesces who believe one should not resort to violence while also confirming with the violent individual that believes evil cannot be condoned or ignored.

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King insists that this is the method of preference. An example of King's ideas for nonviolent resistance is the peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins at the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.

King states that it is not a conflict between people, but a tension against justice and injustice. "Nonviolent resistance is not aimed against oppressors but against oppression," (282). Here King separates the oppressing people from the act of oppression. King finishes strongly by declaring that nonviolence is imperative in order to accomplish ultimate community.
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