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A PATH SELDOM CHOSEN
I recall an incident back in my elementary school days, when I was on the playground during an afternoon recess. My friends and I were intensely involved in a emotional game of basketball. I had been playing miserably, so after my fourth brick, I spiked the ball, super bowl touchdown style against the solid pavement. It began a long process of ricocheting off the walls of the coverd area and amidst it’s air born flight it somehow managed to collide with the jawbone of a rather thuggish looking 5th grader. At this time, an ominous dark cloud of rage began spouting from the disgruntled upperclassmen’s nostrils. A large crowd began chanting, “fight! fight! fight!” that was slowly forming around us like vultures circling to pick at the bones of the unfortunate loser. Realizing that the odds of me emerging alive from this mess weren’t very good, I began to think of a strategy that would enable all my major organs to remain intact. I decided to use humor to defeat this barbaric beast. I must have ridiculed and made fun of myself over 200 times. I told him that even if he passed out, in a full body cast , and suffered from leprosy, he still could wipe the floor with my feeble body. I told him if he didn’t disfigure me, that I would offer to be his own personal reusable toothpick for as long as he wished.
Violence and nonviolence are two very effective ways to solve problems, but for people like me whose brains are stronger than their fists, nonviolence seems much more practical and less harmful. I’m not a tree hugging’ hippy or a follower of Gandhi. I simply believe, and history supports my beliefs, that violence and nonviolence are two strategies of solving a problem. The flaw of violence is theoretically you’re trying to counteract a negative with a negative, or as an old saying goes “fighting fire with fire”. What progress is made from this?, Do you not fight fire with water? The practical thing to do is to reach for a bucket filled with water, not for a flaming torch.
History has shown us clear instances which support my beliefs. For example, take the black civil rights movement where a young Baptist minister named Martin Luther King lead a nonviolent protest. Martin did many things to reach his goal but he did not raise a fist at his enemies. As a result many laws were changed without a single gun, knife or grenade. Around the time when Martin Luther King was making his mark, another young black man with similar hopes had set out on his own quest to free his people of the unjust rules of white America . Unlike King, this man thought the only way to achieve his people’s desires was in a violent manner. Malcolm X was this man. Although he was a great leader, he did not achieve King’s results.
The point that this historical example proves is that, two men equally great in leadership abilities took two different roads, both of which could lead them to the same destination. Only one road was the correct choice, that was Dr. King’s road of a nonviolent solution. It takes a phenomenal man to set aside his animal instinct to lash out in anger and put forth a compassionate and humane perspective. I myself, a firm believer in nonviolence, have not always been successful in attaining this state of mind. My brain is stronger than my fist, which I don’t deny, but let’s face the facts it is less satisfing to hold a nonviolent march than to simply crush the offender’s skull. That thought is perhaps the greatest challenge to extinguish from the minds of the human race, so that society can evolve.
You’re probably wondering what the conclusion of that fateful day on the play field was. My tactics did succeed, and I managed to retain all my major origans. After the crowd began laughing at my foolish self-directed jokes, the enraged 5th grader quickly switched from steaming in anger to chuckling along with the rest of the observers. Eventually he lost interest and went along his way, just in time for me to sharpen my basketball skills before the
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Politics, Activism, Community organizing, Counterculture of the 1960s, Nonviolence, Martin Luther King Jr., African-American Civil Rights Movement, Nonviolent resistance, Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Civil rights movements, Bernice King
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