Is Nonviolent Civil Disobedience a Constructive or Destructive Response to Social Injustice/ Conflict? essay

IsNonviolent Civil Disobedience a Constructive or Destructive Responseto Social Injustice/ Conflict?


Inthe latest years, there has been an outburstof the number of people around the globe who have embarked on the useof nonviolent action. There is, however, a heated debate on theprecise meaning of nonviolent. To some, nonviolent action is aconvenient technique for handling conflict or giving out socialchange. On the other hand, nonviolence is a moral overbearing or away of life.


Atfirst glance, violence seems like a greater technique for resolvingconflicts or attaining anticipated ends. The reason given is becauseit has with it clear and palpable strategies and even weapons.Passive techniques are harder to picture, and there is no shortage ofmoral and applied dilemmas that doubters can highlight as barriers totaking nonviolence seriously.

Many reasons may be given in support of nonviolence. It is a weaponthat is accessible to all and not likely to distance itself fromopponents and third parties. It is useful in breaking the cycle ofviolence which breeds counter violence. Nonviolence is capable ofleaving room for conversation. In nonviolence, the media is also ableto concentrate on the issue at hand rather than on the violence andits aftermath, and it acts as one surest way of attaining publicsympathy (Kerr, 2009).

Also, it is quite likely to bring forth a constructive rather than adestructive outcome. Nonviolence is one method of conflict resolutionthat aims at getting to the truth of a given situation not just thevictory of a particular side. It also goes hand in hand with theteachings of major religions in the world.

Furthermore, there are more reasons why we apply nonviolence, andthese exceed the belief that it is useful, or it is a correct way ofconflict resolution. Nonviolence can also work as a basis to a way oflife. It agrees with the belief of the fundamental unity of humankindand that it is the only way of action, political or interpersonal. Italso does not hinder that way to what has been calledself-realization.

Nonviolencefocuses on communication, and there are some steps to be carried out.The objectives must be utmost reasonable (Gregg). A person shouldhave a belief that what they are doing is fair and should communicatethis to their opponent. When addressing the opponent, the personshould try as much as possible to maintain eye contact with them asmuch as possible. Then the individual should not make abrupt gesturesfor most of them may signify violence and if the opponent is quiteaggressive they can attack him. All movements must be slow and wellcalculated not to mean an approaching attack. When being practical,it is quite important to inform the opponent of all the actionsbefore you perform them.

Anindividual should try as much as possible not to say anythinghostile, critical and threatening. It is also vital to state theobvious before it goes out of hand. State things like, “You arehurting my arm.” Or “You are shouting a lot.” Any person who isin the process of doing an act of violence has high expectations onhow his or her victim will act. So if an individual is capable ofacting differently in a non-threatening way, he or she can interruptall the flow of events that would have come to be if violence was inplace. It is important to create a situation that is new to theopponent.

Itis important for the individual to befriend the opponent’s betternature. Everyone has a spark of decency even the most brutalindividuals (Erikson). The nonviolent defender should strive to reachthat. The individual should not shut down at all in reply to solidviolence. It is important for the nonviolent defender to play all byear. Hence, it is important to resist so firmly without intensifyingviolence or even anger. He or she should try diversified approachesand also keep on trying to alter the opponent`s picture of thecondition.

Alsoin nonviolence approach, it is important to make the opponent talkand also listen to what he or she has to say. The candidate should beencouraged to say what they believe in, fear and highlight theirwishes. It is important not to argue but also desist from giving animpression that you agree with proclamations that are immoral andcruel. Listening at times proves to be much more important than whatone has to say. The nonviolent defender should keep the opponenttalking and calm.

Nonviolence is active though many claim that the word nonviolencesuggests passivity. It is an active form of resistance. Itinvestigates the sources of institutional violence and arbitrates ona political and philosophical level through persistent and directactions.

Thefilm Pray the Devil Back to Hell highlights the astoundingnarrative of the Liberian women who carried out an initiative oftackling the warlords and the administration of tyrant CharlesTaylor. The faceoff was held after a vicious civil war that broughtinto place an unimaginable peace in Liberia. The movie is inspiringin the setting of class. Leymah Gbowee comes out as an attractive anda charismatic person whose recollections and testimonies show couragein the face of inequality. The film also portrays the lack of prideto express self-doubt, anger, humility and humor. The film also showsa contemporary instance of the strength of nonviolent protest that isalso quite powerful. It is also reasonably high especially when itsprouts from Africa and women both who are habitually undervalued andlabeled in restraining ways and also ignored.

In the museum in New York, it portrays so many instances ofnonviolence civil disobedience as a constructive means. So manycampaigns are seen as having been carried out in the USA to bringabout various social changes. Some of the campaigns against socialinjustices include fighting for the sake of the Muslims, therecognition of immigrants in the USA, women suffrage among others.Individuals came together, and they were able to voice their issuesto the administration of the day and were able to achieve a lot ofmilestones. Today in New York Muslims can live peacefully with theirChristian counterparts. Women out of the nonviolence action can be ina position to vote today. All the many examples just show hownonviolence can be an important tool to bring about social justice.

Nonviolence is the relentless consciousness of the humanity anddignity within oneself and others too. Nonviolence searches forjustice and truth. It denounces violence both in attitude and method.Also, nonviolence is a bold recognition of active love and goodwillas the tools by which one can outdo evil and transform others andalso themselves. In nonviolence, the defender is willing to gothrough suffering rather than inflict it on another person.


People should go through nonviolence training. The purpose of thetraining is for all the people to form a mutual understanding on theuse of nonviolence. It offers a forum where individuals can shareideas on fears, feelings, oppression and nonviolence. It permitspeople to come together and create solidarity among themselves thathelps in providing an opportunity to build affinity groups. Thetraining is used as a preparation for an action and offers the peoplea chance to understand an action, its legal consequences, and tone.It assists individuals to decide whether they will take part in aparticular action.

Whenplanning to take part in any civil disobedience, it is crucial toeither join an affinity group or form one if none is in existence(Gregg). The affinity groups act as a basis of solidarity and supportto all their members. Feelings of isolation or even alienation fromthe crowd, world or movement are lifted due to the trust andfamiliarity created once the group works in unison. Through thebringing out of the familiarity, the structure of the group decreasesany possibility of penetration by outside provocateurs. Nonetheless,members of an affinity group should be prepared to be infiltratedwhen undertaking an action.


Kerr, K. (2009). Climate Change and Conflict: Addressing theInevitable through Conflict Transformation. Unpublished.Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service.

Erikson, Erik H. Gandhi`s Truth. New York: Norton, 1969.Print.

Gregg, Richard Bartlett. The Power Of Nonviolence. New York:Schocken Books, 1966. Print.