Martin Luther King had it right. So did Gandhi. Theirs was an almost incredibly painful path to victory, but they were willing to endure any amount of pain to get there. Peaceful non-cooperation with violence (or tyranny) cannot be defeated when its adherents will endure any amount of suffering to achieve their goals—when those goals are just.
“Re-run the tape” of the Capitol protest via peaceful non-cooperation with violence and you have hundreds of thousands standing or sitting peacefully in the way of anyone seeking to enter the Capitol, for days, for a week, for weeks, unwilling to leave until they are carried away or dragged away or beaten with clubs and evacuated to hospitals. The spectacle of such persistence and passion would be a far more moving one than the spectacle of citizens climbing the walls of the Capitol. The images of those willing to absorb any number of blows to defend freedom would be forever seared into the mind and soul of America.
Yes, this nation was born out of violence. Yes, we were the terrorists who resisted the British. Yet, there is another way. It is a much, much harder way. It is Martin Luther King’s way and Gandhi’s way and Christ’s way, and I would never prescribe it without acknowledging how difficult it is and how much focus, commitment and courage it takes.
No pain. No power.
This is the path I would prescribe for Black Lives Matter or for Make America Great Again. My own political views are not the point. I am speaking here about the psychological forces set in motion by violent struggle versus non-violent struggle. The latter can be just as disruptive, yet can claim higher ground morally and trigger tremendous empathy and even admiration from one’s opponents. Frustration, yes. Anger, yes. But the addition of empathy and admiration can change, well, everything.
Dr. Keith Ablow