What Made Non Violence Work

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Gandhi and Mandela: What Made Non-Violence Work?

Background Essay
The history of violence in the world is well documented. However it is also possible to use non-violence to bring about change. This DBQ will look at two countries where a non-violent movement was successful.

Historic Context
India and South Africa were two important nations on two different continents. But although they looked strong on the outside, each one suffered from a disease that threatened the health of the whole. For India, the disease was colonization. For South Africa, it was racial segregation.

Three Conditions
In each of these nations three conditions help explain why non-violence worked. The first condition was that both of them had been colonies of England. And like England both countries thought law was very powerful – more powerful even than government officials.

The second condition was the presence of violence. Without the possibility of a violent revolution, the government might not have been willing to change.

The third condition was the presence of a leader – Mohandas Gandhi in India and Nelson Mandela South Africa. Each of these men was so charismatic he could lead his followers to a non-violent victory. Both of them gave their lives to the cause. Gandhi was shot by an assassin while Mandela spent almost twenty-seven years of his life in prison. These are their stories.

Mohandas Gandhi – “An eye-for-an-eye only makes the whole world blind” Mohandas Gandhi was born in 1869, in Porbandar, India. His father taught his son respect for all religions. His mother taught him that all living things are holy. Following custom, Gandhi married at age 13; his wife, Kasturbai, was even younger. At age 19 he went to London to study law, and at age 22 Gandhi completed his studies. He now felt more than ever that the English, who had ruled India for almost two centuries, were law-abiding and fair. Hopes high, he sailed for...
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