Gandhi, in addition to being widely regarded as the “father of India” was also the architect of non-violent resistance the template for modern civil disobedience.
Two more quotes give further insight into his philosophy of non-violent action as a tool for confronting injustice:
- “An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.”
- “Non-violence is the greatest and most active force in the world. One cannot be passively non-violent... One person who can express ahimsa in life exercises a force superior to all the forces of brutality.”
By these standards the non-violent civil disobedience action undertaken by three courageous Tennessee lawmakers, (the Tennessee three) in the wake of the killings of three children and three school workers was a stunning success.
The Tennessee three are Rep. Justin Pearson, Rep. Justin Jones and Rep. Gloria Johnson. Their weapon, a bullhorn and their conviction to do something about the unbridled gun violence in America.
Many have noted that while Pearson and Jones, both black were successfully expelled from the House, Johnson who is white survived her expulsion attempt by a single vote. That would of course appear to be blatantly racist and it certainly is of course. But it may be more complicated than that.
Sparing the white woman while expelling the two black men bears the hallmark of Tennessee’s racist past it also seeks to divide the three at the center of the storm. Divide and conquer if you will. But the Tennessee three will not be divided. They continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in their common cause. Their unity appears stronger than the cynical attempt to divide them.
This direct non-violent action is one of the most successful statehouse actions in recent decades. A big win for the Tennessee three and hope for the country.