Philosophy / Constrast And Comparison Of Gandhi, Malcolm X, And Martin Luther King On The Topic Of Violence

Constrast And Comparison Of Gandhi, Malcolm X, And Martin Luther King On The Topic Of Violence

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Autor:  anton  03 November 2010
Tags:  Constrast,  Comparison,  Gandhi,  Malcolm,  Martin
Words: 1017   |   Pages: 5
Views: 1166


Violence is an unjust and unwarranted exertion of force or power. It is a tactic to abuse or violate another being. Many people have thought this notion wrong and used nonviolent methods to go against their oppressor and successfully overcome them. Some of these individuals are Gandhi, M.L. King, and Malcolm X.

Mohandas Gandhi was such a pious individual and used only nonviolence (ahimsa) to gain recognition and defeat his usurpers. His first concept was known as the law of love, "the force of nonviolence is infinitely more wonderful and subtle than the material forces of nature, like, for instance, electricity" (Pg. 626, 2nd paragraph on column 2). Gandhi explains that spiritual love runs like electricity. Instead of physically hurting someone, a person can resist and use a nonviolent approach. An individual must be in harmony with his/her mind, body, and speech. His second concept is the law of suffering where an individual should endure great suffering to progress in his nonviolent actions. Gandhi talks about a "pure" suffering and uses Christ as an example, "hence did the sacrifice of Jesus suffice to free a sorrowing world" (Pg. 624, Lines 8-9). The last two concepts of Gandhi intertwine with each other, cycle of violence and means/ends theory. He explains that violence breeds violence and this cycle continues. If two individuals keep using brutal force against each other, the cycle will go on and on until the end when they both go down in defeat. An individual should use good means to get good ends because "the means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree" (Pg.621, 2nd paragraph of column 1).

Martin Luther king had also used nonviolent methods which he extracted from Gandhi. His first concept is Agape, "understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill toward all men" (Pg. 629, last paragraph). An individual should have mutual love for all human beings, if not "like" which is an emotional affection. King's second theory is the means/ends theory; an individual cannot reach good ends with evil means. His last two concepts interweave together, sacredness and interrelatedness of life. An individual disrespects himself/herself when they disrespect others, plus a person's life is too sacred to take away by killing (brutal force). King believes using nonviolent methods will result in a double victory which is to win over the oppressor and winning our own victory.

Last but not least, we shall look at the teachings of Malcolm X. He believes "fear born from threats of violence may be the only thing that will be able to shake the system" (Pg. 613, 2nd paragraph on column 2). Malcolm's first concept is self defense, where individuals have the right to "see that our lives and our property is protected" (Pg. 631, 1st paragraph on column2). In some cases, he believes its okay to use violence to bring justice if the system is unjust, which he talks about in his second concept. In Malcolm's last two concepts, he explains that the oppressor doesn't understand a peaceful language, but will only cooperate when the victim uses force of violence. Another concept he stresses on is that individuals should fight united as a group; it's not a one-man job. Don't get Malcolm wrong; in his quote "by any means necessary", he not only talks about violent attacks, but "means of international politics. In the end of his speech, Malcolm states "I don't care what color you are, as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth" (Pg. 633, last paragraph on column 1). In life, individuals face oppressors and they must learn to defend themselves in order to survive.

Although Gandhi and King have many mutual comparisons, Malcolm X does contribute and have similar beliefs like they do. All three of these individuals believe that if there is unjust done to individuals, they have the right and take the opportunity to do something about it rather than sit down and do nothing. They all care about individual's rights are willing to show a path for people to follow in order for others to save themselves.

Despite their similar beliefs that individuals should win victory over their oppressors, I mostly agree with Martin Luther King's position. The use of agape and an individual being able to win "double victory" is really outstanding and seems very logical. Although King created concepts extracted from the teachings of Gandhi, he had also used methods of Jesus. Gandhi talks about his law of love and cycle of violence, but doesn't stress on the notion of the sacredness of life. King, on the other hand, explains the difference between love and like and how a person disrespects themselves if they cannot respect others. Malcolm X is a whole other story next to Martin Luther King. Both these men have different views on how to approach the oppressor. King believes we must love all human beings even if they commit bad deeds and individuals must think with good means to have better ends. Malcolm, on the other hand, says it's okay to fight back to bring justice if injustice was done to them.

I, myself, am one of those individuals who wouldn't act violently towards others even in rage, which is another reason why I had chosen Martin Luther King. In technical terms, Malcolm X would have been a good choice. Self defense and physically fighting for your rights would seem right. But, morally it is wrong because we are all human beings and some individuals aren't on the right path and need guidance. So then, it wouldn't be right for a victim who follows the right path to attack the oppressor who isn't. All individuals should have mutual respect for each other in order to have good ends. Let's not forgot about Gandhi, who was the preacher of nonviolence. Although he did have some good points, king had similar concepts but concentrated more on how an individual should have goodwill to all and love is greater than like.



Presbey, M. Gail, Struhl, J. Karsten, & Olsen, E. Richard. (2000). The philosophical Quest: a cross-cultural reader (2nd Edition).

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