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Civil Disobedience

            The use of civil disobedience is not a new phenomenon, nor is it uncommon. There have been many times throughout history when people nonviolently refuse cooperation with injustice. These instances show the persuasive power behind nonviolent civil disobedience. It is only recently that nonviolent refusal of cooperation has been joined with huge numbers of people in order to bring about change in social structure or government. Yet despite the fact that this type of civil disobedience is relatively new it has worked every time it was instituted. Showing that nonviolent noncompliance with injustice is the most effective way of affecting change.
             Nonviolent noncompliance originated largely with Mohandas Gandhi in 1906 at the onset of the South African campaign for Indian rights. Later, the Indian struggle for complete independence from the British Empire included a number of spectacular nonviolent campaigns. Perhaps the most notable was the yearlong Salt campaign in which 100,000 Indians were jailed for deliberately violating the Salt Laws. These actions brought such world attention that change in social structure was unavoidable. Gandhi did not think up civil disobedience by himself, he read many books on the subject including Henry David Thoreau's Walden and Civil Disobedience. Gandhi was very impressed with Thoreau's writings stating, "[Thoreau] taught nothing he was not prepared to practice himself" (Thoreau 422). Nonviolent civil disobedience is referred to as Satyagraha in India, meaning literally "clinging to truth" or in Gandhi's case truth and God were one in the same (Gandhi iii). Gandhi believed very much in God, and therefore had a very clear distinction between body and soul. Gandhi writes "It is a fundamental principle of Satyagraha that the tyrant whom the Satyagrahi seeks to resist has power over his body and material possessions but he can have no power over the soul" (289).

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