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Lessons Learned

Those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.

Hindsight is 20/20, here we will try to consolidate the positive lessons. In the brief case studies we can only scratch the surface. We cannot recommend the books in the bibliography enough! Only there will you get a real flavor for what happened to these leaders and movements.

  1. Non-violence requires a "leap of faith" - To disarm yourself after your home and family have been bombed, to happily allow yourself to be beaten senseless while offering no resistance may not make a lot of "common sense".

  2. Things can change - So often we can become trapped because "that is the way it is", we just sit in the back of the bus . . . that is the way it is here. But never believe that just because "that is the way it is" -- makes it right, or that it can't be changed tomorrow.

  3. People can change - Real change comes from within. The example of nonviolence, the willing suffering people undergo can melt the hearts of the opposition. It is human nature to justify our "cruel or unkind" acts because it was someone else's fault. When that other person treats you with love, and fails to return evil for evil -- there is cause for introspection.

  4. There will be doubts, disagreements and failures - King failed in some attempts, so did Gandhi -- they both knew what it was like to fall flat on your face. There is disagreement and dissension in any large movement (and especially when people care deeply about an issue). Those differences will be exploited by the opposition. Satyagraha while calling for love, respect & concern for your oppressor, certainly asks the same for the members of your own movement.

  5. Publicity is valuable - The focus of newspapers and cameras helped deliver the message to everyone. Both movements exploited publicity, Gandhi and King were prolific writers. Their actions caught the fascination of the common person.

  6. Have faith in what you believe - You must have the courage of your convictions and the willingness to follow through. There are 999 admirers of virtue, and one person with virtue. Do what you think is right -- even if no one else joins you and you march alone.

  7. Requires action of the masses - These movements were done by the poor people, it doesn't require a college degree. People need to come together, to hear speeches, to become energized. The leadership must show the example. A movement across a large region does NOT have to be coordinated. You do NOT need central control and scheduling. You just need to be organized by your common belief and express your concerns in a similar manner. This allows the movement to spread very quickly and to the smallest towns.

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