Man and Social Change, Part 3: Violence and Nonviolence, 1969 March 21


Throughout history, physical violence has been used to bring about immediate social change. However, it is unable to rob a person of the “final vote” – the option to give up one’s life. Non-physical violence is a more devastating reality for Thurman because when it is effective, the person surrenders the will and is robbed of the option. Willingness to die, to escape the forced option, is “the organic basis for freedom in human life.” The force of violence does not enter the will but “Nonviolence insinuates itself into the will,” creates a new sense of self and freedom, and enables the person to become an unbounded instrument of social change.
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