What’s the most terrifying thing a tyrannical government can face? What method of defense in the past has come closest to completely disarming an oppressive enemy possessing a billion times the physical strength and resources as its prey? I contend, with two prime examples from recent history, that it’s nonviolent disobedience; refusing to take part what is forced upon you against your best interests. At the same time this method is the rarest used in history because of the willingness to endure pain without striking back or backing down — the bravery involved — but nevertheless, the two examples we have to view the results of in reference to nonviolent disobedience alone prove it’s power tenfold — and I would only encourage further testing.
To start, I’d like to share an excerpt of a speech I heard when I was 10 or 11 — one that changed my life from the very second I heard it, and one I still think about today. To set it up, this is an audio clip from the award winning movie Gandhi, released back in the 1990’s about the man it’s named after — Mahatma Gandhi — and it’s a word for word translation of what he actually said — though just a portion during a speech he delivered in India after a law had been passed — by India’s occupying British government — stating Indian residents would have to prove their status by presenting an ID to any officer who demanded it; they were all to be fingerprinted like criminals, or tagged animals; and they had to get married as Christians, not Hindus, Sikhs, or Muslims — the country’s three national religions — or else their marriages wouldn’t be recognized by the country’s government — their native country.
This action by the British occupying government, needless to say, started many riots and violent uprisings. The British, as we know, had been doing this throughout the world for centuries — occupying countries and riling up the natives with unjust laws to get them violent enough that the British felt they were justified in killing the people they were oppressing. It’s an age old tale; how do you think America was “discovered?”
Take note of what Gandhi said to furious crowds of India, back in 1925.
“They can torture me, they can break my bones; even kill me. Then they will have my dead body, but they will never have my obedience.”
When one thinks of a skinny little Indian man standing up to the British war machine like he did — and he did until they left his country — it’s really quite amazing. This man was willing to die for the freedom of everyone around him. Not to say dying makes anyone a hero, because it doesn’t and only a fool would think so, but standing up against evil until you can’t stand any longer is every persons obligation, though it’s one rarely fulfilled. No doubt, just as those who followed his words when he was alive, every person on earth today as well can benefit from this Gandhi’s example of genius..
Nonviolence, after all, is the only weapon the common man has against tyranny. It wouldn’t have done any good for Gandhi to tell his people to take up arms against an military force that would happily crush them, eventually leading to even harsher laws and grimmer oppression. Instead, Gandhi went the opposite direction. He publicly advised his listeners to ignore the laws the British were enforcing; to take the violence brought against them and do so without striking back nor running away, because only then would their persecutors truly see the evil they were inflicting — and it worked.
With the whole world watching, Britain had the choice to either publicly massacre a country full of people swearing nonviolence who wouldn’t tolerate their rule any longer; or just leave. It was a risky move, but the British had no defense and they left. Not to say everyone prescribed to Gandhi’s philosophy in India; there were many brutal battles, but it was Gandhi’s nonviolent demonstrations that eventually got the world listening and swung the tide in India’s favor, and the British Government was forced to give India back its independence. By one man publicly prescribing nonviolence, millions of lives were saved — many lives in South Africa as well at an earlier point in Gandhi’s life under the same tactic of peace and nonviolent disobedience.
Under similar circumstances, other people, though few, have caught on to the power of nonviolent disobedience and utilized it quite well. Here’s a clip of another man who spread the spirit of nonviolence. A man who led a huge movement through America, leaving its government dumbfounded on what to do.
“They know how to handle violence, but they’ve proven time and time again that they can’t handle nonviolence.”
This statement couldn’t be more true, especially coming from the mouth of a man who scared the American Government so much they ended up killing him. Yes, that’s right, the mainstream media would never put this story on prime time:
Martin Luther King Jr. — a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for his leadership during the civil rights movement — was assassinated the day of April 4th, 1968, as he stood outside of his room on the 2nd floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. By that point King had stayed there regularly enough for his room, #306, to be called the “King-Abernathy Suite.” He was booked to speak that night in Memphis but unfortunately for the crowd, and the rest of the world, he never made it.
At 6:01 pm, as King stood outside his door waiting to leave, a .30-06 bullet struck him in the face, ripping through his cheek, jaw, and spine, and then lodged in his shoulder. It was a clean shot with no chance of survival. He was pronounced dead at the local hospital — St. Joseph’s — almost exactly an hour later.
Witnesses around the scene reported they saw a man fleeing from a rooming house across the street from the Lorraine. When the police got there they found a box outside of it containing a rifle and binoculars. The fingerprints left on the binoculars matched the person who was renting the room: James Earl Ray. A little more police work would show Ray had also purchased the rifle. It looked like it was case closed, except for the fact James Earl Ray was nowhere to be found.
A manhunt ensued for two months before the London authorities ended up identifying infamous fugitive at Heath Row Airport. He was arrested and flown straight back to Memphis, where, after consulting with legal counsel, he would enter a guilty plea, to which he was given a 99 year prison sentence in return.
Understandably not happy about this in the least, three days later Ray tried to appeal his plea but was never allowed a trail. For years he told anyone who would listen that he wasn’t the shooter, but it did no good. According to Ray, he was told to plead guilty with a promise of getting off within a few years for doing so, and that it was in fact a man named Raul he had met in Montreal that had planned and carried out the killing, though Ray admitted he was privy to it happening, but insisted he was framed for the murder. Unfortunately, for him, though he did escape prison in 1977 for a few hours, he ended dying in his cell in 1998.
Before Ray’s death though, in 1993, a man named Lloyd Jowers crawled out of the woodwork and informed ABC News he was involved in a conspiracy with the US government and the mafia to kill Martin Luther King, Jr.; and James Earl Ray, according to Jowers, was nothing but a scapegoat to lay the blame on.
The FBI briefly looked into the claim but decided none of Jowers testimony could be substantiated and dropped the case claiming he was just looking for fame and money. This episode must have provided a missing piece to the puzzle for the King family though, because in 1999 — a year after James Earl Ray had died in prison — they had enough of a case built up to take Jowers to court.
After only an hour into the proceedings it was found that not only was Jowers guilty of involvement in the conspiracy that killed Martin Luther King, but so were the Memphis Police force and the American Government. Yes, that’s right, an American court found that Martin Luther King — an American hero, public speaker, fighter for freedom and equality, leader to the downtrodden, and spreader of peace — was killed by the American government. Click here for transcripts of the court trial.
The King’s didn’t even sue for a lot of money, just $100 in damages. All they wanted was the truth, and they fought until they got it. Now it’s our job to spread the word ourselves, because you won’t see that story smeared all over CNN.
Once again, the moral of the story isn’t: Get killed and be a hero! Not in the slightest; that’s what military recruiters tell kids to fool them into risking their lives in the army. The moral of the story is: Martin Luther King was right! They can’t handle nonviolence! The fact that the American government killed this man is a full admission that they were terrified of him. Imagine that, a country that spends all of its money on tanks, bombs, guns, bullets, armies, navies, air forces, police forces, swat teams, secret services, intelligence agencies, spy networks, code cracking, commanding and conquering, and so forth, was terrified of a person who said he would never hurt a soul. If that’s not awesome power, I don’t know what is.
So what was the American government so terrified of? I think it’s plain to see they were scared of Martin Luther King’s message catching on; not just to the African American communities, but to the entire country’s frame of mind. Remember, this was a time in America — not unlike any other time in America — where the government was chanting “war, war, war” to their loyal population; it was not in their best interest to have a man promoting the idea of peace and equality among all mankind to the very people they needed to recruit to fight for them.
Unfortunately for the world, when King was killed the streets of America erupted in violence. There were riots in over a hundred cities across the country. That was probably the greatest thing the government could see at that point. Nonviolence was no more. But can you imagine what would have happened if everyone had stuck to Martin Luther King’s game plan?
From Jesus, to Gandhi, to King, to Lennon; all of these men have stood up to horrendous tyranny with peace as their sole weapon, and every single one of them was extremely effective in their respective roles in time. They were silenced, yes, but the message sent from these events in time shouldn’t be that if you stand up to evil you’ll be killed for it, no way, because they can’t kill us all and we now have the blueprints left by these names. What the peaceful revolutionaries of history have taught us is that nonviolent disobedience is the scariest thing tyranny can face, and to let it it die is to give up our only power. These men led armies of peaceful resistors the whole time they were alive that scared the hell out their opposition. It was only after they were gone did their tactics go with them, and that’s purely because their opposition martyred them and bent their stories to look like they were more than men, and what they did was “special” to its place in history; nothing anyone could repeat. But that’s bullshit. They were not gods, they were humans like the rest of us — they just realized a truth hidden deep within the social system. Nonviolence, they’ve shown us, instantly exposes those who use violence as practicers of evil — no matter how hard their propaganda machine is working for them to say otherwise — and they have no defense for it. Let’s not let these men’s death be in vain and lose touch with what they discovered which was so terrifying to the ones who silenced them — a message they tried to tell us again and again: if everyone on earth wanted peace right now, they would all get it.
By Olan Thomas of CUT2THETRUTH.com.
This is a non-profit article and is strictly for the purposes of education.
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