Violence is defined as behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something. Each year, over 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence. How can that one word be a leader among the robbers that are stealing lives of many men and women? For every person who dies as a result of violence, more are injured and are suffering. On the tenth anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., labor union organizer and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez published his article pertaining to nonviolence. Chavez placed his article in the magazine of a religious organization which had the intent to help those in need. While appealing to his audience with pathos and engaging diction, he also establishes his credibility and increases effectiveness with allusions to the famous Gandhi and Dr. King. Chavez argues that balancing the use of nonviolence provides for the opportunity to advocate for all people and enact change.
Among the motives of Chavez in this speech, is the desire for the audience’s support in choosing the nonviolent approach. In his article, Chavez alludes to Mahatmas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to provide more credibility to his argument. Both these individuals showcase success in their peaceful choice of protests and nonviolent actions. Gandhi was a highly respected advocate for others, especially the poor and helpless. Gandhi promoted an independent India and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Chavez references the teachings and movements of Gandhi saying he taught us the boycott “is the most nearly perfect instrument of nonviolent change.” By exemplifying the results of the nonviolent approach, the validity of the author’s argument increases. Chavez uses many words with positive connotation while discussing Gandhi in order to portray his success and endorsement of nonviolence. Cesar Chavez is an advocate for the labor union and he is deeply involved in the farm workers’ movement, yet he publishes his work in the magazine of a religious organization. He still wants to recognize the need for enacting change, but he persuades his readers to choose to refrain from violence.
Placing the article in a religious magazine specifically targets the principles of those reading. Likely those reading a religious magazine believe in their duties they must fulfill. He states in the opening portion of his article that “human life is a very special possession given by God to man and that no one has the right to take it for any reason.” Appealing to the morals of his audience immediately grants Chavez the open mind that he wants his reader to comprehend his words with. It can be assumed, the religious magazine readers have a specific set of values and supporting others and protecting the lives of others most definitely come on the top of the list. Therefore, Chavez gains more support for his cause by appealing to his audience. He is more likely to get a response and in return more support for his argument by appealing to this specific audience. With examples from historical figures and appeals to the audience, Chavez further achieves his goal of approving nonviolence.
Cesar Chavez is also effective in his argument in favor of nonviolence due to his intriguing and power diction as well as his intentional structure choices. First, sequences of three loaded words is used by Chavez multiple times throughout his article. He mentions, “Misery, poverty, and exploitation” and “frustration, impatience, and anger.” The parallelism in these words carry a very negative connotation. The word exploitation in itself can cause an immediate reflection for the reader. The use of the loaded words appeals directly to pathos.
Chavez mentions that despite all the “misery, poverty, and exploitation [that] exists, we know that it cannot be more important than one human life.” This not only dismisses the counterargument that violence is necessary to cease the exploitation and poverty, but it also evokes emotion in the reader. “One human life.” In this moment Chavez connects emotionally to the audience. At this moment in his writing, Chavez shifts from the possible negative consequences of violence to a direct application of his argument to the life of the reader or a person the reader loves. The pathos appeal allows for the question: Is the violence and outcome truly worth a human life? Chavez is able to tap into the emotions of his audience and consequently, the audience is more likely to act on nonviolence just as Chavez endorses it.
In his final paragraph, the author uses a series of the personal pronouns. Chaves writes “We know that most likely we are not…” Then he says, “For us there is nowhere else to go.” He wraps his article up stating, “We learned many years ago that the rich may have money, but the poor have time.” Chavez uses this pronoun as a strategy to appeal to his audience and gain support for his cause. He also teaches that waiting is okay, there is not a need for calling all arms and fighting when nonviolence is much more effective. In his last few sentences the choice of pronoun makes what he is saying all the more powerful to the reader.
Violence has been ignored as a public health issue, as many are scared of its harsh realities. No single factor can explain why one person or a group respond to situations in a violent manner. However, Chavez presents a single response that can cure the pains of violence. He effectively compels his audience to support him in his choice to pursue nonviolent actions. Looking at our history, it is evident that choosing nonviolence is a relatively new concept. Mao Zedong has said that political power “grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Nuclear weapons remain feared throughout the nation and globe. In fact, the United States of America was built upon violence. However, it is much more rewarding to look through the new lenses of nonviolence. Gandhi united millions to fight for independence nonviolently. Rosa Parks sparked the Supreme Court’s decision the outlaw segregated seating, all with one nonviolent act. Chavez conveys his point arguing that whatever the cause may be “it cannot be more important than one human life.”