SIX PRINCIPLES OF NONVIOLENCE

Fundamental tenets of Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence described in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom. The six principles include:

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is a positive force confronting the forces of injustice, and utilizes the righteous outrage and the spiritual, emotional and intellectual skills of people as the ultimate force for change and reconciliation.
  2. The Beloved Community is the Goal. The nonviolent concept is an overall effort to achieve a reconciled world by raising the level of relationships among people to a height where justice prevails therefore, creating a conducive environment for people to attain their full human potential.
  3. Attack forces of evil, not persons doing evil. The nonviolent approach helps one analyze the fundamental conditions, policies and practices of the conflict rather than reacting to one’s opponents or their personalities.
  4. Accept suffering without retaliation for the sake of the cause to achieve the goal. Self-chosen suffering is redemptive and helps the movement grow spiritually and in humanitarian dimension. The moral authority of voluntary suffering for a goal or cause communicates the concern to all and sundry, including the opponents.
  5. Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as external physical violence. The nonviolent attitude permeates all aspects of the campaign. It provides a mirror type reflection of the situation and conditions to the opponent and the community at large. It is essential to maintain a high level of spirit and morale during a nonviolent campaign.
  6. The universe is on the side of justice. Truth is universal and the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. The principle of nonviolence introduces a new moral context in which nonviolence is both the means and the end.

The Six Steps/Phases of Nonviolence include:

  1. Information Gathering – The way you determine the facts, the options for change, and the timing of pressure for raising the issue is a collective process.
  2. Education – The process for developing articulate leaders, who are knowledgeable about the issues. It is directed toward the community through all forms of media about the real issues and human consequences of an unjust situation.
  3. Personal Commitment – Means looking at your internal and external involvement in the nonviolent campaign and preparing yourself for long-term as well as short-term action.
  4. Negotiation – Is the art of bringing together your views and those of your opponent to arrive at a just conclusion or clarify the unresolved issues, at which point, the conflict is formalized.
  5. Direct Action – Occurs when negotiations have broken down or failed to produce a just response to the contested issues and conditions.
  6. Reconciliation – Is the mandatory closing step of a campaign, when the opponents and proponents celebrate the victory and provide joint leadership to implement change.

We often view the Six Steps as a phases or cycles of a campaign rather than steps because each of them embodies a cluster or series of activities related to each of the other five elements.

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