Nonviolence

“If we refuse to speak for others, we may refuse a powerful platform from which to support struggles against oppression…” – Chilla Bulbeck. 

I read this quote in a piece about Palestinian Women and the violence of Israel’s occupation. It came to my mind this morning when I attended my social justice class. Learning about the Civil-Rights movement and nonviolent resistance led me to reflect on my own depictions of the use of current nonviolent means for change.

I am a person full of passion. But also a person who has been critical and suspicious of my generation’s efforts of nonviolent resistant. I would love to go into depth about why I have felt this way – but I struggle to explain it. Maybe it comes down to feeling defeated and hopeless to make any real change. I always see protests being organized, to then hear nothing progressive about the impact/influence. Why is that? 

Erica Chenoweth, an American political scientist. I watched her Ted talk on the Success of nonviolent civil resistance. As I watched, I noticed many similarities in her way of thinking to my own. Before she wrote about the success of nonviolent campaigns, she was under the assumption that only violent resistance works. After thorough research, the statistics proved otherwise. The Nonviolent and Violent Campaigns and Outcomes (NAVCO) data analyzed 323 violent and nonviolent resistance campaigns between 1900 and 2006. The success rates and frequency of nonviolent campaigns have increased. Although violent insurgencies continue, the data showed that success rates have declined. 

Nonviolent campaigns thrive when they have adequate participation, including a diverse range of people that can maintain resilience whilst being oppressed. Erica’s study on this topic definitely challenged what I thought about the success of campaigns. 

With this new knowledge, I feel a little bit more confident in my ability to influence some sort of positive change. I will be attending a student walkout tomorrow alongside a rally downtown – ‘Disbar Kavanaugh!’. 

Not only will I involve myself in this form of nonviolent resistance to influence change, I will also analyse the ways in which peaceful protesting can have major influences on society. As well as identify how well the protestors have prepared for this, to then see if their efforts were ultimately worthwhile. To be fully honest, I still am skeptical.

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