This is a semi-continuation of the violence and christianity thread that is going on. I always thought of Jesus as non-violent (I may be wrong however) and I always thought so b/c non-violence is so effective when facing an enemy that severely out-guns you.
In the Civil Rights movement, for example. I think they gained a lot of headway by being non-violent; by irrefutably being the people right in the situation. Even (some) people who came from racist backgrounds and saw blacks as inferior objected to teenaged protesters getting beaten down by billy clubs and firehoses. It forced those people to atleast give a somewhat understanding listen to the situation. It was effective. Sure it had to be painful. It had to be hard. In the short run it was a much more difficult path to traverse…but in the long run the goals that the SCLC and SNCC put forth were met.
Contrast that with the Black Panthers (who I respect greatly, don’t get me wrong). But by advocating armed resistance, the American public never really listened to what they had to say. They were crazy n***ers with machine guns for all they were concerned. And look what happened to the party. Their leaders were either imprisoned (on possibly phony charges) or shot. If they didn’t have guns, it would be very easy to spot the injustice. All in all, violence earned their party a disservice.
Another example: WWII. Poland resisted militarily and was defeated quickly. Same with France. The Nazi war machine was far superior (atleast in tactic, if not in arms) to these countries, and the Jews living in those countries more often than not ended up in concentration camps. Even Britain, who was among the “winners” of the war, suffered tremendous damage to its cities and people.
Contrast that with Norway, who when the Nazis came in feigned to “roll over.” Sure, take the country, it is yours. Occupy it, whatever the hell you want. But Norway, because it took a non-violent stance, was able to continue with a complex underground that was very successful in hiding Jews. If you believe WWII was to save the Jews, then that was a far more effective tactic. Sure, the Allies eventually won, but by that time 6 million at least were executed.
Bertold Brecht has a great fable that mirrors this point. It goes something like this. (sorry for the bastardization) :
A man was sitting in his home. All of a sudden he heard a knock on his door. It was a dictator. He said, “Submit to me.” The man said nothing and let him in. The man served the dictator for years, until the dictator died from food poisoning. The man picked up the dictator, threw him out the door, and said, “NO.”
I doubt the situation in India would have been as effective if Indians were taking arms against the British. It sure must have been hell taking beating after beating in proactive non-violence. But it worked.
I see non-violence as taking the moral high ground, undeniably. Either you take enough beatings that the world has to step in and stop it, or more probable (based on recent history) the perpetrators either find the country too radical to risk occupying, or the enemy is lulled into a false sense of security and lets their guard down.
It is more difficult in the short run. If someone hits you in public (embarassing you and causing pain to you) the easiest thing to do is let pride and anger step in and punch him back. But if a policeman comes up, it is hard for him to decipher who was right and who was wrong.
But if you swallow your pride and take your lickings, you are undeniably in the right. This will help you if you hold beliefs that run contrary to popular ideology (making you almost wrong from the get-go) or if you are weaker, and will lose the fight if a policeman doesn’t happen to come along.
If you are fighting for your country’s independence, or right to exist, I’d think you’d want to minimize casualties on your side (on account of your purpose- securing the livelihood of the citizens of the country). Entering armed conflict almost always leads to escalation which in turn leads to more death.
Thus, I’d aver that non-violence is the more effective than violence.
what do you guys think?