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What is Nonviolence?

Nonviolence is a powerful philosophy and strategy for social change that rejects the use of physical violence. The practice of nonviolence calls for peaceful active behavior in the midst of conflict. At its core, nonviolence embodies respect, and even love, for one’s opponents. The practice recognizes and utilizes the importance of dialogue without the use of physical threat or coercion in negotiating and problem-solving.

Also key to the philosophy of nonviolence is a core belief that if we wish to achieve just ends, the means we use must also be just. Proponents would argue that it is fundamentally irrational to use violence to achieve a peaceful society.

Although absent of physical threat or retaliation, nonviolence is not passive and implies the very oppositie of weakness or cowardice. The power of nonviolence lies in patience and self-control motivated by the intention to meet human needs and promote a more just society.

To read the Center's PeacePoints publication dedicated to the topic of nonviolence, click here.

"At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love."

“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.