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Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela

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Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela

Non-violence is a concept that people participate in social and political change without violence. It is a form of social and political change between passive acceptances and armed struggle. Non-violence way to participate in the social and political change is including nonviolent civil disobedience against, acts of civil disobedience or other powerful influence uncooperative antagonistic form; it is similar with pacifism, but it is not pacifism. Since the mid-20th century, non-violence and civil disobedience become the main form of social change, and it also is respected political and social philosophy. As the practice of social and political change, non-violent has the essence difference with pacifism, it is contrary to the wishes of the oppressed, and it struggle with any injustice and power political. In my final paper, I will instruction three famous Non-violence movement leader: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela; and also I will compare the similar and difference between them.

Mahatma Gandhi was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Employing non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world. A very important turning point in Gandhi’s life is he arrived in South Africa to work as a legal representative for the Muslim Indian traders based in the city of Pretoria when he was 24. In South Africa he faced the discrimination directed at colored people, prejudice and injustice law. In order protest this discrimination and injustice, Gandhi held a mass protest meeting in Johannesburg, and Gandhi adopted his non-violent protest for the first time. After this mass protest meeting, Gandhi’s ideas took shape, and the concept of non-violent matured during this struggle. In 1915, Gandhi went back India, and until 1947 India is independent. After Gandhi came back India, he expanded his non-violence platform to include the “non- cooperation,” the boycott of foreign-made goods, especially British goods. Linked to this was his advocacy that homespun cloth be worn by all Indians instead of British-made textiles.

Gandhi exhorted Indian men and women, rich or poor, to spend time each day spinning homespun cloth in support of the independence movement. In addition to boycotting British products, Gandhi urged the people to boycott British educational institutions and law courts, to resign from government employment, and to forsake British titles and honors (The Essential Gandhi, Page 136). Every Indians enjoy this non-cooperation movement and this movement is widespread appeal and success. Gandhi is a great non-violence leader, his idea “non-violence and non-cooperation” lead 20th century non-violence movement. During his life, he protected South Africa Indians’ labor rights, and he lead India independent; but at end of his life, he failed to stop the division of India and Pakistan. Therefore, I think Gandhi is successful non-violence leader at South Africa and India independent movement, but he is unsuccessful for India and Pakistan problem.

Martin Luther King was the greatest preacher and leader for social change, and he is the most powerful non-violence social movement leader in the United States. If people want to find a great non-violence as Mahatma Gandhi in the world at twenty century, he must be Martin Luther King. Martin is one of the most prominent advocates of non-violence and direct action social change methods. Montgomery Bus Boycott is the first famous non-violence movement that Martin Luther King leaded. Under Alabama law, all public facilities to implement the “separate and equal” principle, The Montgomery bus implementation of black and white sub-seat. In 1955, a black woman whose name is Rosa Parks on the bus for refusing to let the white seat to a white, and she have been arrested by the local police, because she contempt of the Montgomery bus apartheid Act. The bus company’s main revenue comes from blacks.

Four days later, Martin Luther King held Bus Boycott movement, after a year of hard work; a federal district court ultimately ruled that the Alabama law was unconstitutional racial segregation in municipal bus. Martin Luther King leaded civil rights movement, based on his non-violence idea and his famous speaking “I have a Dream,” he successful help African American get their civil rights, and American government signed the bill of “Civil Rights Act of 1964.” This Act provided that shall not take apartheid in the United States, and also discriminate against African American, minorities and women are illegal. “Civil Rights Act of 1964” ended a long black and white apartheid policy in the United States, and it is considered a milestone of progress in human rights (American Nonviolence, Page 164). In 1964, Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. Although King is great non-violence movement leader, he is unsuccessful for his movement. He helps blacks get rights in a legal point of view, but after he dead the racialism still there, As Michael Jackson’s song said “If Martin Luther was living, he wouldn’t let this be.”

Nelson Mandela is a world-renowned Nobel Peace Prize winner. In order to overthrow the white racist rule in South Africa, he was arduous struggle 50 years, and he was facing the prison more than 27 years. Ultimately, he becomes the first black president in South Africa, and he creates a democratic and unified situation for the South Africa. In South Africa the biggest problem is apartheid policies at that time. Apartheid policies entrenched race as the basis for access to power and resources. Conflicts resulted from increasingly polarized groups “Blacks” in majority and ‘Whites” in minority. The Apartheid government relied on security forces to maintain its authority and on the other hand, the African National Congress fought against discriminatory and exploitive social policies both using passive resistance and armed struggle (Democracy in South Africa). Finally, with international support Mandela successfully overthrows the unjust legislation and establishes a justice new republic of South Africa. Therefore, Mandela’s non-violence is successful.

Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela work for the human rights and against the injustice laws with non-violence, Gandhi also work for nature independent. They have similar objective of the struggle, so they have some four similar ideas. First one is non-violence, all of them achieve their objective by non-violence way, and non-violence is their key idea of their work goal. They use their non-violence in social movement is second similar idea. The third similar idea is all of them against with injustice law such as discrimination; they know this is main problem of social. The last one is all of them have wide mass base, they know any social movement can’t without people, and they know how to make thousand and thousand have same voice. Base on their similar ideas, we can conclusion the modern non-violence movement is wide mass base non-violence social movement which against injustice laws or fates.

Although they have similar objective and they work in the same way, they still have some differences. First, mass base is different; in India Gandhi’s mass base are almost whole citizens of India. King and Mandela’s mass base is black people and a few white people. I think mass base is one of main reasons for the social movement successful or not, Gandhi has huge mass base, so he is successful; in South Africa, black is majority, so Mandela has huge mass base too, and he is successful too; In the United States, black people is minority at that time, so King successful help black people get rights in a legal point of view, but the racialism still there. Except human right, Gandhi still work for nature independent and Mandela still work for national liberation, so that is why they have wider mass base than King. Although Mandela uses non-violence way to accomplish South Africa social change, they still have armed forces, but Gandhi and King don’t have it. I think it can show more praiseworthy of Mandela’s non-violent social change. Mandela spent 27 years in prison, and repeatedly been persecuted by the government at that time. It is very hard to keep calm and still insist in non-violence, but Mandela did it; I think that is why Mandela has more than one hundred awards in his 40 years political career.

As a political philosophy, non-violence is often described as the civilian political, because it has a broad mass base from around the world and historical point of view. Non-violence is a great invention of the political movement; it contains the essence of Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern philosophy. When non-violence overcomes violence, human beings will get reborn. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are forerunner of this new social change way, they give us a good example to change social injustice without weapon and war; although they are successful or not, they are great social movement leader.

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