Leaders of Non Violence Ideas

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Violence, force and coercion have been contested for years in regard to both their justification and roles in affecting humanity. The question of whether there are times when force is justified is complicated to answer due to its ambiguity. What type of force or violence is right and what is wrong? Some people believe that such acts are justified as they create intimidation and allow the intimidator to control others, while others believe such acts are unjust because they go against humanity and set a precedent that it is acceptable to treat others in a degrading manner. Violence and force should not be practiced regularly nor without discretion, as it creates objectification of a victim and leads their dehumanization.

In a society where intimidation is used to control others, the oppressed become less human-like and are eventually alienated from society and treated with no respect. To act forcefully or violently towards others can be justifiable in acts of self defense or when they are done to benefit the good of humanity, however nonviolence should be favored whenever possible. In Plato’s Republic, the idea of justice and what it means to be just thoroughly discussed. The people participating in the dialouges make it obvious that defining a term can have different interpretations. (Plato) In this book, the characters create the ideal Republic, in which all things are just and society works in perfect harmony. The foundations of this society are justice and for it to work they had to define what it meant to be just.

For the first books what justice was, was picked apart by each man participating in the conversation and debated in depth. Ultimately, they never gave a definite meaning of what it means to be just, leaving it up to the reader to decide for themselves. (Plato) The ambiguity of the word justice and the meaning of what it is to be just, makes it difficult to state when it is justifiable to use violence, force or coercion. To determine what justifies force is a complicated task. One must consider many factors including but not limited to; social, political, and economic. Though, these factors are in fact arbitrary, meaning that defining the justification of violence and force doesn’t matter as much because it is a personal task. Even after you delve through these factors, it is still complicated because the defenders and the aggressors both believe what they are doing is right.

Violence and force are two powerful concepts and should only be used in times of desperation. According to the dictionary, the definition of violence is, “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” (Merriam Webster) and the definition of force is, “coercion or compulsion, especially with the use or threat of violence.” (Merriam Webster) These include self defense, when you are physically attacked and there is no other way to escape your attacker, and when your violence has an immediate and positive effect on the situation for the majority of the people involved.

People often believe that the only way to stop violence is with violence. This assertion is incorrect. Though at times an appropriate tactic, violence should generally be met with nonviolence. When all things are considered, there are rarely benefits to the employment of physical force and violence. War has existed since the beginning of time and will continue to exist. When we study history, we generally study wars. Their causes, their outcomes, who participated in them, when they were, etc. But what justified these wars? It is true that at time war may be necessary for defense or benefit of a person’s native land, but sometimes it seems like there are wars just to have wars.

In Thucydides , On Justice, Power and Human Nature, a detailed account is given of the Peloponnesian Wars, a series of battles fought between Athens and Sparta. This book gives a detailed account of the history that led to this war and recounted the speeches of various leaders and war generals. In “The Speech of the Corinthians,” a speech about Sparta going to war with Athens, it states, “If you have the power to put a stop to subjugation, yet look the other way when it happens, then you have done it yourselves…,” (Thucydides 18). This text says if you witness oppression and don’t try and stop it, then you in turn become the oppressor.

The Spartans were convinced that Athens was going to stop at nothing to conquer them and other city-states of Greece. They were correct with this assertion. Athens ultimately fell due to their own hubris as a result of believing they had the power to conquer anyone. (Thucydides) War, violent acts and the use of force are acceptable when trying to stop oppression as they are being done with no bad intention. Lives have been carelessly lost in wars fought throughout history. People should practice nonviolence to save lives of soldiers and civilians, who too often end up as collateral damage in wars and violent movements. It is difficult to resist the temptations of force and violence because it can, at times, seem to be the easiest solution to a problem. Force and violence are a basic human instinct.

According to the book of Genesis, the first murder was committed when Cain killed Abel out of jealousy. At this time there were only four people that existed on Earth. (Genesis 4:8) Cain was punished and cursed by God for this. (Genesis 4:11-16) Genesis is the first book in the Old Testament of the Bible, to have murder be one of the first topics addressed in a book that acts as a moral code to some is significant. His story was put in the Bible to show others how one’s instinct to act violently out of spite has little benefit. While acting forcefully and violently can be easy, to solve problems with words and other nonviolent practices shows true courage and character.

However, humans are lazy by nature, so more often than not they resort to violence to solve problems because it does work – it is just not humanistic. One of the most well known religious figures, Jesus Christ, preached about nonviolence in one of his most well known sermons, Sermon on the Mount. In the Gospel of Matthew, Chapters 5-7 Jesus preaches his famous Sermon on the Mount. He teaches about morality and specifically the benefits of nonviolence and the ways one should live their lives if they want to be one of his followers. He says to forget the saying “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and to practice turning the other cheek towards others who do you wrong. (Matthew 5:38-39)

This is because violence only creates more violence. Non violence is effective because it’s more difficult to fight than violence. It is easy to be aggressive towards someone that is aggressive to you but nonviolence maintains a certain element of surprise. Usually when someone lashes out against you they expect you to retaliate but if you simply do nothing, your opposer may not know how to respond to your passiveness. It also makes them look foolish for displaying violence because you did nothing to provoke it and nothing to fight back. By not retaliating, their initial acts of violence are no longer justified.

One act of violence fuels further acts of violence when their could be little to no violence involved in a conflict. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also preaches to love your enemies. His main reason for this is, why would you not love them? The sun will still rise and set, the sky will still rain on you no matter what your feelings are, so why waste your time being hateful and violent towards others? (Matthew 5:44) He wants you to look at the bigger picture of life, which is to love and be peaceful towards one another. He doesn’t want someone to be caught up in war and fighting because you are going to die anyways and all of that violence and force will have been for nothing. (Matthew 5:45-48)

In this sermon, Jesus discredits any justification of force or violence which is a big deal. At this time in history, he is a messiah,seen as a savior to many people, which means they trust his words and want to follow his example. Surely, this was more impactful in the beginning of the common era when Jesus was alive and when Christianity was starting to become popular, but people today should try and keep this in mind when dealing with issues. Violent actions and violent words affect people in serious ways. People suffer for years after mental or physical abuse that causes emotional scars.

Force and violence towards other human beings, especially in the case of war, cause dehumanization. This happens because when a certain group of people is oppressed, based off certain cultural values or a belief system they have, it sets a precedence to the whole world that it is okay to treat them as less than human. This has been seen in history in many cases of genocide such as the holocaust in World War II or the genocides in Rwanda between the Hutu and Tutsis during the Rwandan civil war. How in anyway is that justified? To kill people or act violently and forcefully towards others? What gives anyone the right to act in any such way? No human being is better than any other and it is gross to think that people believe violent acts such as these act as remedies to our problems. The concept of language and being able to express our emotions and thoughts through words are the greatest weapons a person can use. You don’t need to be violent to achieve what you want.

Violence, force and coercion are powerful and influential on society as a whole. They should be used with caution, as a last result to avoid any detrimental impacts on humanity. When contemplating violence, people should opt for the approach of nonviolence instead. This is more justified than violence because it avoids any harsh treatment of humans which would lead to their degradation, which is never justified. Some of the most forward thinking humanistic leaders of this world preached about the dangers of violence and the benefits of a more passive approach to conflicts. These include Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, and many more. Violence, force and coercion should only be justified in cases of self defense or when there is no other alternative way to ameliorate the situation.

Cite this paper

Leaders of Non Violence Ideas. (2021, Nov 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/leaders-of-non-violence-ideas/

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