In Martin Luther King Junior’s essay “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and Aung San Suu Kyi’s essay “Freedom from Fear”, they discuss the importance of non-violent action in order to end political conflicts. In the speech “A Just and Lasting Peace” Barack Obama explains the effects of war and the ways in which non-violence can create a just and lasting peace. According to King, in order to create opportunities for negotiating about unjust laws, non-violent action may be necessary. Violence is never the long term solution to any problem.
This is why non-violent action is so powerful. Suu Kyi discusses why society must be able to liberate their minds from apathy and fear in order to overcome a corrupt government. Fear causes corruption in government and corruption in society. In order to restore a corrupt government and society, the citizens must find courage, because courage is the only way to overcome corruption. According to Barack Obama, in order to create a just and lasting peace we must find alternatives to violence. War promises human tragedy. In most cases the cost of war outweighs the benefits.
Non-violent direct action, freedom from fear, and alternatives to violence will fix corrupt governments and will create lasting peace by forcing a national awareness of injustices; without political pressure there cannot be a lasting peace. Non-violent direct action will create opportunities for negotiating unjust laws. During the civil rights movement, racial discrimination impacted the lives of many African Americans. Racial segregation laws became the main target for civil rights activists like Martin Luther King, Jr.
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According to King, “in any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: (1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices are alive; (2) negotiation; (3) self-purification; and (4) direct action” (King 576). In the first step you must be able to identify an issue which requires non-violent action. After you identify an issue you must negotiate with a political leader in order to solve this problem. If this does not create a solution to the problem direct action may be necessary.
The purpose of non-violent direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will open the door to negotiation. King believes that violence will only prolong the issues in society and the only effective way to create lasting change is to pressure political leaders through non-violent action. According to King, there are two types of laws: a just law and an unjust law. “An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself. A just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow that it is willing to follow itself” (King 580).
Unjust laws create corruption among societies. In order to overcome these unjust laws one must be willing to break them. By disobeying unjust laws, and accepting the penalties which come with it, in reality you are “expressing the very highest respect for law” (King 580). This act of civil disobedience will put significant pressure on politics in order to force a change. Many peaceful protests were used in order to bring awareness to level of police brutality during the civil rights movement.
After witnessing countless African Americans being attacked by malicious police officers while peacefully protesting, a national awareness pressured segregation laws out of existence. In order to build a civilized society which provides basic human rights, citizens must be fearless of their government. According to Aung San Suu Kyi, there are four kinds of corruption: “corruption induced by desire”, “revenge”, “ignorance”, and “fear” (Suu Kyi 682). Fear, unlike the rest, is the root of all evil. Power doesn’t lead to corruption, fear does.
The fear of “losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it” (Suu Kyi 682). In order to overcome fear in a corrupt government, each and everyone must make sacrifices in order to possess courage. In a society where fear is an integral part of everyday existence, it is not easy to remain uncorrupt. It is the obligation of the people to stay strong and uphold principles of justice. Without fear one can overcome any obstacle, but the second fear returns it is difficult to reach your goals.
In order for these ordinary people to create a society which promotes “the basic rights and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled”, they must discover that “freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end” (Suu Kyi 684). When a society is able to stand together and liberate their minds from apathy and fear, they will truly achieve freedom. They will have the courage to challenge their corrupt government and create a government where the people possess the power. The non-violent way of overcoming a corrupt government is to overcome fear.
In a world filled with war, genocide, and dangerous weapons, we must explore alternatives to violence which will help create just and lasting peace. According to Barack Obama “there is nothing weak—nothing passive—nothing naive—in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King” (Obama 644). Despite this, Obama believes that war has a role in preserving the peace, but in no way is it the solution to all problems. No matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. Innocent citizens will die along with foreign and U. S soldiers.
Wars between nations will give way to wars within nations. Looking back at the past we can see completely different views on war. For most of history “the capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible” (Obama 643). The views on war have significantly evolved over the years due to many evolutionary changes including the addition of the Marshal Plan and the United Nations. Both of these additions have prevented a third world war. By restricting the use of war and weapons, the U. S has improved the balance between peace and violence.
According to Obama, there are three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace. We must develop “alternatives to violence”, “human rights”, and “economic security” (Obama 648). Alternatives to violence will help the United States build peaceful relationships between foreign countries which will prevent future wars. Human rights are essential for maintaining a peace among the U. S citizens. Economic security will improve the standard of living in the United States and it will unite the peoples trust in the government. By achieving these goals, the U.
S can achieve a non-violent means to a lasting peace. Non-violent direct action, freedom from fear, and alternatives to violence are key solutions to overcoming a corrupt government and creating lasting peace. Non-violent direct action may seem like an ineffective way to solve problems in a corrupt government, but according to Martin Luther King, Jr. , it is the only way to fix a corrupt government. Non-violent direct action was a key tactic used during the civil rights movement which ended racial segregation in America. Martin Luther King, Jr. nd other civil rights activists demonstrated non-violent sit-ins and protests which pressured political leaders into negotiating deals which would limit segregation laws. By doing this, the U. S people were able to see the level of police brutality during the civil rights movement. The U. S citizens were able to see how segregation was morally wrong. Non-violent direct action was an effective method used to end racial segregation. Freedom from fear is what Aung San Suu Kyi describes as being a key method to fix a corrupt government. Any society which is controlled by fear often possesses some level of corruption within its government.
In order to overcome a corrupt government, you must liberate your minds of apathy and fear. When a whole society is able to come together and build a sense of courage among the people, that society will have what is needed to overcome a corrupt government. Barack Obama describes the importance of finding alternatives to violence. In order to create a lasting peace, you must first have peace. As a nation, the United States is striving towards peace whether it’s on foreign or domestic land. Many wars have been fought in order to create peace, but as long as there is war there will never be lasting peace.
The solution to this problem is complex, but it starts with us finding alternatives to violence. War will not solve any issues. It simply prolongs and complicates foreign conflicts. When the U. S government creates peace treaties instead of wars, then and only then will we see a glimpse of lasting peace. Works Cited King, Martin Luther, Jr. "Letter from Birmingham Jail. " Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , 12 Apr. 1963. Print. Obama, Barack. "A Just and Lasting Peace. " The Nobel Foundation, n. d. Print. 2009. Suu Kyi, Aung San. "Freedom from Fear. " Micheal Aris, 1995. Print.
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