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An Eye For An Eye Does It Make The World Blind

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"An Eye for an Eye. Does it make the World Blind?"

In 1963, as protest to the authoritarian regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem, Buddhist monks began to go to public places in Vietnam and commit suicide, by drenching themselves in gasoline and setting themselves on fire. They did this as an act of civil disobedience, defined as an act of defiance of specific laws or policies of a formal structure which the individual or group believes to be unjust. The Buddhist civilization in Vietnam was not apparent to the Americans until the Buddhists began sacrificing themselves in Saigon's public streets. The pictures of the monks engulfed in flames made world headlines and caused American intervention; and later the capture and killing of Diem and his brother. In contrast to these acts of civil disobedience, one can observe the actions of suicide bombers. In the Palestinian territories, those who support suicide bombing claim that it is merely a tactic of war in defense of their land and homes. Without superior weaponry, they see it as "a heroic act of martyrdom, a final act of resistance, stemming from desperation"(Suicide Bombers). Both the Buddhist monks and the "suicide bombers" in Palestine resort to self-sacrificial actions as their form of violent civil disobedience. Violent forms of civil disobedience should only be necessary to counter violence but never if it inhibits upon the liberties of the innocent. By this definition, the actions of the Buddhist monks are more justifiable than those of suicide bombers in the Middle East.

Both the Buddhist monks and suicide bombers resort to violent means to try and enact a certain social change. The Buddhist monks that sacrificed their own lives believed they were just and right in fighting the religiously discriminatory government. If someone believes their fight is just and right and that their life is worth what they believe in, then violence on oneself in acts of civil disobedience is permissible. However, the actions of suicide bombers in the Middle East are not right because their suicides inhibit on the liberties of innocent people.

When contrasting violent and non-violent forms of civil disobedience, one can look at the contrasting doctrines of civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Martin Luther King's tactics of protest involved non-violent passive resistance to racial injustice. He once said, "unearned suffering is redemptive. Suffering, the nonviolent resister realizes, has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities"(Sylvester). Martin Luther King believed that through non-violently resisting an attacker, the attacker is able to better understand his or her wrongdoing. It is apparent that King borrowed heavily from much of Thoureau's Civil Disobedience. Thoreau said, "All men recognize the right of revolution; that is the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable" (Thoreau). Martin Luther King believed that the various Jim Crowe laws in place at the time in the country were wrong and unjust and that through peaceful demonstrations, the nation would realize this. Martin Luther King organized peaceful marches. On May 2 over a thousand youths demonstrated in the city of Birmingham, Alabama and went to jail. When the jails were almost full, Bull Connor the police chief in Birmingham changed his tactics to violence, turning on the water hoses, sending in police with their clubs, and releasing the police dogs. Moral indignation swept across the nation. On May 10 an agreement was reached granting the major demands: desegregation of lunch counters, rest rooms, fitting rooms, and drinking fountains; upgrading and hiring of blacks on a nondiscriminatory basis; release of all jailed persons; establishing communications between black and white leaders. Thus, through non-violent methods, Martin Luther King was able to enact incredible change. In contrast, Malcolm

X clashed heavily with civil rights leaders over the issue of nonviolence, arguing that violence should not be ruled out where no other option remained. He said, "concerning nonviolence, it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks"(Linz). Some believe that changes enacted through nonviolent methods came very slowly and that a more forceful nature is necessary. One must understand, however, that "passive resistance" is in no way passive. Through demonstrating peacefully and publicly displaying the wrong doings of the authorities, "passive resistance" is actually quite active. No matter what one's opinion is on violent versus nonviolent means, no one can argue with the result of the nonviolent actions taken by Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Someone, Martin Luther King Jr. borrowed heavily from other than Thoreau, was Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi used non-violent resistance to protest the British occupation of India. In 1930 Gandhi led a march to the sea where he would pick up a lump of natural salt, defying the law, since the British

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