Practicing Martin Luther King Jr’s 6 Principles of Nonviolence

We’ve often wondered at Dr. Martin Luther King ability to maintain his non-violent stance in the face of numerous threats and arrests.  Was he born with it, or was it driven by his powerful faith, or was it something he had to work at daily… a practice?

Practice is, most likely, what it would have to be for us mortals. We found some insight into how we might do that at The King Center, as we read King’s 6 Principles of Nonviolence, and actions he advocated based on them. We’re taking the day to think about how the work in our life. What would it be like to truly live non-violently, in even the smallest interactions?

SIX PRINCIPLES OF NONVIOLENCE

  1. PRINCIPLE ONE: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people. It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
    It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
  2. PRINCIPLE TWO: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding. The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
    The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.
  3. PRINCIPLE THREE: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people. Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people.
    The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil not people.
  4. PRINCIPLE FOUR: Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform. Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation.
    Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.
  5. PRINCIPLE FIVE: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate. Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body.
    Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.
  6. PRINCIPLE SIX: Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.
    Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.

 

SIX STEPS OF NONVIOLENT SOCIAL CHANGE

The Six Steps for Nonviolent Social Change are based on Dr. King’s nonviolent campaigns and teachings that emphasize love in action. Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence, as reviewed in the Six Principles of Nonviolence, guide these steps for social and interpersonal change.

  1. INFORMATION GATHERING: To understand and articulate an issue, problem or injustice facing a person, community, or institution you must do research. You must investigate and gather all vital information from all sides of the argument or issue so as to increase your understanding of the problem. You must become an expert on your opponent’s position.
  2. EDUCATION: It is essential to inform others, including your opposition, about your issue. This minimizes misunderstandings and gains you support and sympathy.
  3. PERSONAL COMMITMENT: Daily check and affirm your faith in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. Eliminate hidden motives and prepare yourself to accept suffering, if necessary, in your work for justice.
  4. DISCUSSION/NEGOTIATION: Using grace, humor and intelligence, confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices. Look for what is positive in every action and statement the opposition makes. Do not seek to humiliate the opponent but to call forth the good in the opponent.
  5. DIRECT ACTION: These are actions taken when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in, discussion/negotiation. These actions impose a “creative tension” into the conflict, supplying moral pressure on your opponent to work with you in resolving the injustice.
  6. RECONCILIATION: Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Nonviolence does not seek to defeat the opponent. Nonviolence is directed against evil systems, forces, oppressive policies, unjust acts, but not against persons. Through reasoned compromise, both sides resolve the injustice with a plan of action. Each act of reconciliation is one step close to the ‘Beloved Community.’

04 Sep 1958, Montgomery, Alabama, USA — Police officers O.M. Strickland and J.V. Johnson apply force in arresting the Reverend Martin Luther King for loitering near a courtroom where one of his integration lieutenants was on the stand. King charged he was beaten and choked by the arresting officers. Police denied the charges. —© Bettmann/CORBIS via history.com

 

2 Responses to Practicing Martin Luther King Jr’s 6 Principles of Nonviolence

  1. dick wagner 01.11.2019 at 11:31pm #

    I am looking to obtain copies of the Baltimore Archdiocese booklet on Dr King’s 6 principles. Have not had any response from the archdiocese. Do you know where copies might be obtained

  2. Sally Schneider 01.15.2019 at 10:15am #

    On the Archdiocese homepage, they posted a pastoral letter that talks about it + where to access it ‘To receive a printed copy of the pastoral letter, email [email protected] (with subject line “Request copy of MLK Pastoral”).’

    The MLK King Center has the 6 principles here: http://thekingcenter.org/king-philosophy/ I haven’t dug deeply into their archive but they may have it.

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