Ethics Discussion: King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail

1. Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
• It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
• It is assertive spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
• It is always persuading the opponent of the justice of your cause.
2. Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
• The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
• The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.
3. Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people.
• Nonviolence holds that evildoers are also victims.
4. Nonviolence holds that voluntary suffering can educate and
• Nonviolence willingly accepts the consequences of its acts.
• Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation.
• Nonviolence accepts violence if necessary, but will never inflict it.
• Unearned suffering is redemptive and has tremendous educational and
transforming possibilities.
• Suffering can have the power to convert the enemy when reason fails.
5. Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
• Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as of the body.
• Nonviolent love gives willingly, knowing that the return might be hostility.
• Nonviolent love is active, not passive.
• Nonviolent love does not sink to the level of the hater.
• Love for the enemy is how we demonstrate love for ourselves.
• Love restores community and resists injustice.
• Nonviolence recognizes the fact that all life is interrelated.
6. Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.
• The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.
Step 1: Gather Information
Learn all you can about the problems you see in your community through the media, social
and civic organizations, and by talking to the people involved.
Step 2: Educate Others
Armed with your new knowledge, it is your duty to help those around you, such as your
neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers, better understand the problems facing
society. Build a team of people devoted to finding solutions. Be sure to include those who
will be directly affected by your work.
Step 3: Remain Committed
Accept that you will face many obstacles and challenges as you and your team try to
change society. Agree to encourage and inspire one another along the journey.
Step 4: Peacefully Negotiate
Talk with both sides. go to the people in your community who are in trouble and who are
deeply hurt by society’s ills. Also go to those people who are contributing to the breakdown
of a peaceful society. Use humor, intelligence and grace to lead to solutions that benefit
the greater good.
Step 5: Take Action Peacefully
This step is often used when negotiation fails to produce results, or when people need to
draw broader attention to a problem. it can include tactics such as peaceful
demonstrations, letter-writing and petition campaign.
Step 6: Reconcile
Keep all actions and negotiations peaceful and constructive. Agree to disagree with some
people and with some groups as you work to improve society. Show all involved the
benefits of changing, not what they will give up by changing

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