Dr. Martin Luther King's

SIX PRINCIPLES OF NONVIOLENCE

 

1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people
2. The Peaceful Community is the goal for the future
3. Attack problems not people
4. Know and do what is right even if it is difficult
5 Avoid harming the body and spirit of yourself and others
6 The Universe is on the side of Justice

 

PRINCIPLE ONE: Kingian Nonviolence is Not for Cowards.
Nonviolence has a complete disrespect for violence. It will not adopt violent tactics to reach its goal and will avoid violence in resolving conflicts and problems.
Dr. King stressed the importance of resisting violence in any form. He preferred and recommended nonviolence because it represented a more humane, noble and honorable method in the path to justice.
Nonviolence is affirmatively standing not only against what is wrong but also for what is right and just.


PRINCIPLE TWO: The Beloved Community is a World of Peace with Justice.
The Beloved Community is a framework for developing a future in which one can deal effectively with unjust conditions.

The "Ends and Means" is dealt with by this principle. You cannot achieve just ends by unjust means; you cannot use violent means to achieve peaceful ends.


PRINCIPLE THREE: Attack Injustice, Not Persons Doing Unjust Deeds.
Humor, anger and indignation about conditions were the focus of Dr. King's energy and attention. People are not the problem; what must be changed are the conditions under which some people operate.

Focusing anger and indignation on personalities is not only violent, but often produces more violence or apathy about the real problems and conditions.


PRINCIPLE FOUR: Accept Suffering Without Retaliation for the Sake of the Cause to Achieve a Goal.
Suffering is not to be confused with further harm to one's self or "self-victimization." Acceptance of harsh and unmerited punishment for a just cause helps the individual and the community grow in spiritual and humanitarian dimensions.
Willingness to endure hardship for a clearly defined just cause can have an impact on those committing acts of violence as well as on the larger community.


PRINCIPLE FIVE: Avoid Internal Violence of the Spirit as Well as External Physical Violence.
Our attitudes and commitment to practicing nonviolence, when faced with violence or issues, are communicated through our actions, which in turn are determined by our attitudes.
Body language as well as verbal expression communicate our real feelings and thoughts about a particular situation. Internal conflicts and violent feelings color these expressions.


PRINCIPLE SIX: The Universe is on the Side of Justice.
Society is oriented to a just sense of order in the universe. Nonviolence is in tune with this concept, and the movement must strike this chord in society.
Every person is opposed to wrong and unjust behavior in a particular situation. Given our understanding of the problem, we must never lose hope that human beings, even our opponents, are able to respond.

 


THE SIX STEPS OF NONVIOLENCE

STEP ONE: Information Gathering
Information gathering is not simply a fact-finding process, but must relate to a specific context, people and place.
Dr. King believed in listening and respecting the opinions of other people, whether they were poor people, uneducated or of a different color.


STEP TWO: Education
Nonviolence's use of all available communications and media to educate the public about the issue or injustice at hand.
Education can mean helping people to realize their ability to effect change and to act on solving major social problems.
Like holding a mirror up to the community, nonviolent approaches to education reveal the unique situation and reflect the need for a better and just image.


STEP THREE: Personal Commitment
Self-examination of all the ways that one may have helped to perpetuate a problem or unjust situation or where one has failed to use the nonviolent approach.
Developing spiritual and intellectual habits fosters nonviolence by dealing with one's own emotions or lack of understanding the truth.


STEP FOUR: Negotiation
Nonviolent negotiation does not humiliate or defeat your opponent.
To prepare for negotiation, Dr. King always stressed the importance of learning about your opponents: their religious traditions, personal traditions, personal or business histories, and educational background.
Nonviolence always allows your opponents to save face and "winning your opponent over" allows for joint responsibility in correcting the problem.


STEP FIVE: Direct Action
This step has two meanings: the first, to take responsibility for doing something about the situation and not waiting for someone else to do it; and the second, to take direct action when all attempts at education, personal commitment, and negotiation have failed to resolve the problem, and more dramatic measures are necessary.


STEP SIX: Reconciliation
The goal of nonviolence is a reconciled world so that we can move forward together to tackle the larger issues we confront as a community.
This step grows naturally out of Dr. King's belief that we focus not on persons but on conditions and if the issues remain clear throughout the process, reconciliation will facilitate the feeling of joint accomplishment and enhance acceptance of the change.


 

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