• Ayesha Patel

The Truth About Nonviolent Resistance

1.15.17


Is nonviolence capable of working effectively in any situation?


Is the “fight” response truly a part of human nature? Or has it been a learned trait, which has then energetically intertwined itself into our chemical makeup? Personally, “fighting” as a basic survival tactic has always been an area of skepticism for me…


We are taught that learning to acknowledge another person’s perspective comes with maturity. Moreover, this “skill” is acquired with age. We learn that empathy is not something that we understand right away. Although I can delve into this concept more, I’ll save you my unnecessarily long explanations. Basically, if such an impactful concept such as gender roles can be taught to a four-year-old, I believe the simple feeling of empathy can be heavily expressed at such a young age as well.


In my opinion, love comes more naturally than hate… acceptance comes more naturally than judgments and imposed division. Beliefs create division, and beliefs are taught…


Nonetheless, with our current understanding of how the human brain functions, I can see why violence would be an initial reaction for solving problems. Moreover, a popular mindset is “I’m not going down without a fight.” Both sides to a dispute obviously believe that their ways are right and the most justified. So, when they can, they are not going to try to acknowledge the other side. To call attention to an issue, a certain action has to directly impact the opposition. That is when fighting is effective… violence can be effective because it achieves obtaining attention. However, that is all it does. It feeds the ego, furthers division, and increases power-hungry people.


Nonviolent action must be able to directly influence the other side. This is where the power of boycotting comes in. In our system, we benefit from each other in one form or another. We rely on each other, which makes the approach of not taking action so powerful. This also puts us on a level playing field in a way. Instead of having an inferior and superior group-which occurs with violence- people realize that we need each other for our own benefits.


Subsequently, nonviolence doesn’t always have to be verbal or silent… I feel like there is a universal language that we still need to uncover (to a greater extent at least). Sure, the language of words can be powerful, but only if they can connect with the audience. We are all constructed from certain ideas, beliefs, etc. because of words, so we resonate differently with each. I think that there is something more that we have not quite grasped… a language everybody can relate to in some form.  The act of fighting can be universal, but the language is not, because it is still Us vs. Them. There has to be a way to disrupt conflict with a universal language, such as love, art, etc… something that allows us all to feel validated, connected, heard… because these are key reasons why we have conflict in the first place…

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