Maria J. Stephan reflects on what civil resistance tells us about humans, and about social change.
I think what it tells you is that humans when faced with the most formidable obstacles – oppression, injustices – are capable of finding courage and taking action to resist, and that they can be effective using non-violent means. And it also suggests that people have different motivations. Some people are very inspired by religious conviction, and that can be a powerful mooring for their activism and for their use of non-violent action.
And that it’s possible, again, to resist unjust structures in institutions without exhibiting anger, hatred, or non-acceptance of the other. So it’s possible to organise, it’s possible to use non-violent means, it’s possible to win over opponents even in the most difficult of circumstances, and it’s possible, most importantly, even when it seems impossible, to be effective using non-violent resistance.