Link to Birdie Calendar Pass? or Prepared on Victory without Violence

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Latest update: July 12, 2000
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Victory without Violence

This Pass? or Prepared? is based on a story in The Progress Report, in which Untouchables confront Brahmins, without violence.

Answer the following questions based on the story.

Click on any of the numbers to see jeanne's answers:

1. What was the issue over which the confrontation occurred?

"Untouchables were not permitted to walk down a certain road." This was a caste-related issue. The Brahmins, the privileged class, had the power to enforce their rule.

2. In what way was this rule offensive to Gandhi?

"This violated Gandhi's principle of self-respect. . ." In other words, one of our human rights is to respect life, and in that process, to respect ourselves. To the extent that a privileged class can enforce its disrespect for us, we are dehumanized.

3. When the untouchables proceeded to walk down the forbidden road, did the Brahmin's enforce their rule with violence?

Yes. "The Brahmins promptly beat" up a Christian who chose to walk with an untouchable, and his "untouchable" companion, as they walked down the forbidden road.. The two tried it again. This time they were arrested."

4. Did Ghandi's principles permit the victims to defend themselves?

No. They were to remain steadfast at the police line in prayer. They were to exhibit no violence, no abuse to their tormentors.

5. How long did it take the Untouchables to win this non-violent victory?

One year and four months. Clearly this was considered a victory. Yet, some young people in the U.S. today would argue that it was too slow, that we must have more swift and complete victories. How do you feel about the story? What do you think Gandhi and Martin Luther King would feel about the story? What do you think Gordon Fellman would think about the story?

6. List both the advantages and the disadvantages to you see in this non-violent approach to issues of dominance and control.

Some Advantages:

  • The communities saw a solution reached without violence, without harming others, and where the powerless maintained their self-respect.
  • The untouchables showed a strong sense of community and self-respect in their support of one another and in their determnation to state their claim.
  • In the end, because their had been no violence and killing, there was no need to heal the harm that would have been wrought by violence. Revenge was unnecessary. Forgiveness was more readily achieved.

Some Disadvantages:

  • The Brahmins did indeed inflict harm on some of the Untouchables in the beginning. That required forgiveness, and the willingness not to seek revenge for past injustices.
  • Progress, at least at this stage, is slow. But once the basic principles are established, progress may well lead to much faster transformation.
  • Not very satsifying to what Gordon Fellman calls our "adversary compulsion," or need for revenge. The reduced stress and danger may ultimately permit far greater satisfaction for all of us.

7.Can you tell which side jeanne's on? Does she appear to be "unbiased?"

Jeanne believes in peacemaking. Clear bias.