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On what non-violence makes possible

Summary

Maria J. Stephan reflects on what civil resistance tells us about humans, and about social change.

Summary

Maria J. Stephan reflects on what civil resistance tells us about humans, and about social change.

Transcript

I think what it tells you is that humans when faced with the most formidable obstacles – oppression, injustices – are capable of finding courage and taking action to resist, and that they can be effective using non-violent means. And it also suggests that people have different motivations. Some people are very inspired by religious conviction, and that can be a powerful mooring for their activism and for their use of non-violent action. 

And that it’s possible, again, to resist unjust structures in institutions without exhibiting anger, hatred, or non-acceptance of the other. So it’s possible to organise, it’s possible to use non-violent means, it’s possible to win over opponents even in the most difficult of circumstances, and it’s possible, most importantly, even when it seems impossible, to be effective using non-violent resistance.