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Martin luther king, jr. three ways of meeting oppression.
Three Ways of Meeting Oppressionby Martin Luther King, Jr., PhD
Oppressed people deal with their oppression in three characteristic ways. One way is acquiescence: the oppressed resign themselves to their doom. They tacitly adjust themselves to oppression, and thereby become conditioned to it. In every movement toward freedom some of the oppressed prefer to remain oppressed. Almost 2800 years ago Moses set out to lead the children of Israel from the slavery of Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. He soon discovered that slaves do not always welcome their deliverers. They become accustomed to being slaves. They would rather bear those ills they have, as Shakespeare pointed out, than flee to others that they know not of. They prefer the “fleshpots of Egypt” to the ordeals of emancipation.1There is such a thing as the freedom of exhaustion. Some people are so worn down by the yoke of oppression that they give up. A few years ago in the slum areas of Atlanta, a Negro guitarist used to sing almost daily: “Ben down so long that down don’t bother me.” This is the type of negative freedom and resignation that often engulfs the life of the oppressed.
But this is not the way out. To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system;thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. The oppressed must never allow the conscience of the oppressor to slumber. Religion reminds every man that he is his brother’s keeper. To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right. It is a way of allowing his conscience to fall asleep. At this moment the oppressed fails to be his brother’s keeper. So acquiescence-while often the easier way-is not the moral way. It is the way of the coward. The Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescing; he merely increases the oppressor’s arrogance and contempt. Acquiescence is interpreted as proof of the Negro’s inferiority. The Negro cannot win the respect of the white people of the South or the peoples of the world if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.
A second way that oppressed people sometimes deal with oppression is to resort to physical violence and corroding hatred. Violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem; it merely creates new and more complicated ones.4
Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. A voice echoes through time saying to every potential Peter, “Put up your sword.” History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that failed to follow his command.
If the American Negro and other victims of oppression succumb to the temptation of using violence in the struggle for freedom, future generations will be the recipients of a desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy to them will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos. Violence is not the way.6
The third way open to oppressed people in their quest for freedom is the way of nonviolent resistance. Like the synthesis in Hegelian philosophy, the principle of nonviolent resistance seeks to reconcile the truths of two opposites-acquiescence and violence-while avoiding the extremes and immoralities of both. The nonviolent resister agrees with the person who acquiesces that one should not be physically aggressive toward his opponent; but he balances the equation by agreeing with the person of violence that evil must be resisted. He avoids the nonresistance of the former and the violent resistance of the latter. With nonviolent resistance, no individual or group need submit to any wrong, nor need anyone resort to violence in order to right a wrong.7
It seems to me that this is the method that must guide the actions of the Negro in the present crisis in race relations. Through nonviolent resistance the Negro will be able to rise to the noble height of opposing the unjust system while loving the perpetrators of the system. The Negro must work passionately and unrelentingly for full stature as a citizen, but he must not use inferior methods to gain it. He must never come to terms with falsehood, malice, hate, or destruction.8
Nonviolent resistance makes it possible for the Negro to remain in the South and struggle for his rights. The Negro’s problem will not be solved by running away. He cannot listen to the glib suggestion of those who would urge him to migrate en masse to other sections of the country. By grasping his great opportunity in the South he can make a lasting contribution to the moral strength of the nation and set a sublime example of courage for generations yet unborn.9
By nonviolent resistance, the Negro can also enlist all men of good will in his struggle for equality. The problem is not a purely racial one, with Negroes set against whites. In the end, it is not a struggle between people at all, but a tension between justice and injustice. Nonviolent resistance is not aimed against oppressors but against oppression. Under its banner consciences, not racial groups, are enlisted.10
If the Negro is to achieve the goal of integration, he must organize himself into a militant and nonviolent mass movement. All three elements are indispensable. The movement for equality and justice can only be a success if it has both amass and militant character; the barriers to be over-come require both. Nonviolence is an imperative in order to bring about ultimate community.11
A mass movement of militant quality that is not at the same time committed to nonviolence tends to generate conflict, which in turn breeds anarchy. The support of the participants and the sympathy of the uncommitted are both inhibited by the threat that bloodshed will engulf the community. This reaction in turn encourages the opposition to threaten and resort to force. When, however, the mass movement repudiates violence while moving resolutely toward its goal, its opponents are revealed as the instigators and practitioners of violence if it occurs. Then public support is magnetically attracted to the advocates of nonviolence, while those who employ violence are literally disarmed by overwhelming sentiment against their stand.
Only through a nonviolent approach can the fears of the white community be mitigated. A guilt-ridden white minority lives in fear that if the Negro should ever attain power, he would act without restraint or pity to revenge the injustices and brutality of the years. It is something like a parent who continually mistreats a son. One day that parent raises his hand to strike the son, only to discover that the son is now as tall as he is. The parent is suddenly afraid-fearful that the son will use his new physical power to repay his parent for all the blows of the past.
The Negro, once a helpless child, has now grown up politically, culturally, and economically. Many white men fear retaliation. The job of the Negro is to show them that they have nothing to fear, that the Negro understands and forgives and is ready to forget the past. He must convince the white man that all he seeks is justice, for both himself and the white man. A mass movement exercising nonviolence is an object lesson in power under discipline, a demonstration to the white community that if such a movement attained a degree of strength, it would use its power creatively and not vengefully.14
Nonviolence can touch men where the law cannot reach them. When the law regulates behavior it plays an indirect part in molding public sentiment. The enforcement of the law is itself a form of peaceful persuasion. But the law needs help. The courts can order desegregation of the public schools. But what can be done to mitigate the fears, to disperse the hatred, violence, and irrationality gathered around school integration, to take the initiative out of the hands of racial demagogues, to release respect for the law? In the end, for laws to be obeyed, men must believe they are right.15
Here nonviolence comes in as the ultimate form of persuasion. It is the method which seeks to implement the just law by appealing to the con-science of the great decent majority who through blindness, fear, pride, or irrationality have allowed their consciences to sleep. 16
The nonviolent resisters can summarize their message in the following simple terms: We will take direct action against injustice without waiting for other agencies to act. We will not obey unjust laws or submit to unjust practices. We will do this peacefully, openly, cheerfully because our aim is to persuade. We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts. We will always be willing to talk and seek fair compromise, but we are ready to suffer when necessary and even risk our lives to become witnesses to the truth as we see it.17
The way of nonviolence means a willingness to suffer and sacrifice. It may mean going to jail. If such is the case the resister must be willing to fill the jailhouses of the South. It may even mean physical death. But if physical death is the price that a man must pay to free his children and his white brethren from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing could be more redemptive.
from Stride Toward Freedom , 1958
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Three Ways of Meeting Oppression. Authored by : Martin Luther King, Jr.. Provided by : Everett School District. Located at : https://www.everettsd.org/cms/lib07/WA01920133/Centricity/Domain/462/11AP%20MLK%20on%20Meeting%20Oppression.pdf . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
Three Ways of Meeting Oppression Essay
As explained by institutional theory, people tend to adhere to traditional institutions despite the presence of far better and more efficient alternatives due to their belief that with age comes stability and as such would be a better choice than an untested and potentially unstable system.
One example of this can be seen in today’s social institutions wherein in one way or another people still adhere to practices related to competition and competitive behavior wherein society today is often described as a “dog eat dog world” defined by inter and intra social competitive behaviors and traditions.
This is evident in the U.S. social system today where individuals actively compete against each other in various aspects related to work, social standing and a variety of similar situations all of which involve individuals working towards “getting ahead.” The concept of “getting ahead” is so ingrained in American society today that it is a ubiquitous concept adhered to by a large percentage of the population all of whom want to “get ahead” of their fellow man.
This, of course, has created a distinctly individualistically oriented society wherein instead of a sense of community people develop behaviors concerning the improvement of one’s own life instead of the community itself. What must be understood is that competition often results in limitations being placed on particular social classes in terms of the type of opportunities they are given, the communities they can belong to and the types of jobs they can have.
This, of course, prolongs the social condition of people thinking in an adverse competitive way in their desire to get ahead; this shows how the idea continues to propagate in between social classes and becomes an almost everyday fixture in the lives of nearly all individuals within the society.
Due to the fact that people think in relation to how a particular activity will help them achieve their own quality of success rather than that of others, this has resulted in people rationalizing society and life itself as an active competition divided between winners and losers, with winners standing on the top of society’s ladder with the losers well below them.
This has resulted in the development of distinct societal attitudes akin to prejudice and discrimination wherein people on the top of the social ladder believe themselves to be superior due to the “winning” in life’s competition. The reason behind such actions is due to the concept of Speciesism which is based on the belief that the category a particular individual or group belongs to is inherently superior to all other groups (Singer, 567).
All this does is create distinct divisiveness within society which is already plagued by various lines drawn upon the figurative sands of race, class and economic distinction. While it is true that a certain degree of healthy competition encourages people to be more proactive and diligent however the fact remains that the current type of societal competition that is currently being advocated has resulted in distinctly negative results and as such should be changed to create a more cooperative and progressive society.
As indicated by Martin Luther King Jr. in his essay “Three Ways of Meeting Oppression” it is often the case that people tend to accept the social situation they are and live in it rather than fight for a better kind of life. In such cases, this only promotes the action and allows it to continue in succeeding generations.
The current prevalence of adverse competitive attitudes in society today is evidence of both the assertions of King and of the tenets of an institutional theory which show how people tend to merely accept the way things are rather than institute change for the better. It is based on this that what is needed is to respond to the current competitive system within society by establishing new social institutions that encourage cooperative action and positive competition.
Instead of a dog eat dog world what should be advocated is a society where instead of attempting to get ahead of other people for the sake of being ahead a better approach would be to improve oneself for the betterment of society to help improve the community for the better. This can be done by removing the societal notion that getting ahead is the only goal in life and replace it with the notion that the through cooperative and community-based action people can achieve great things.
People in society today always seem to think that attaining a particular high ranking position, gaining a lot of money or having valuable possessions is the goal everyone should attempt to reach. The only problem with such a goal is that it, as mentioned earlier, encourages disreputable practices, individualistic thinking and a form of crab mentality.
The other response that should be done is to implement new legislative measures which enable more significant social and racial equality. One of the main reasons behind societies competitive practices is the fact that social and economic situations often prove such practices as being justified given the resulting beneficial effects they have on the lives of people who are “winners.”
By enacting new legislative measures in the form of tax breaks, government assistance and educational assistance for minorities beyond what is being implemented today the end result would create a greater degree of equality between minorities and the majority in terms of economic status which should lead to the development of new societal ideas where the concept of equality within a community seems better than living a life of success yet being relegated to a life of individuality.
Singer, Peter. “SPECIESISM AND MORAL STATUS.” Metaphilosophy 40.3/4 (2009): 567-581. EBSCO. Web.
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Three Ways Of Meeting Oppression Martin Luther King Jr Article Review Examples
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Topic: United States , Development , Strategy , Ethics , Violence , Morality , Love , Supreme Court
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The theses and argument of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Three Ways of Meeting Oppression’ is straightforward and very clear. He analyses three ways of attacking oppression and trying to change the system that allows oppression – the racial segregation and inequality that existed in the American South before the success of the civil rights movement of the late 1950a and 60s. King’s analysis rejects the way of acquiescence – playing along with an oppressive system because it is easier to have a quiet life and not challenge the status quo; he goes on to reject the second way – that so violent uprising to defeat oppression; and in the third section of his essay he argues that the only way to effectively change the system is through non-violent protest. It is interesting that this text is so short and succinct: other famous texts by King – such as ‘Letter from A Birmingham Jail’ and the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech are much longer and use rhetorical features which here, in ‘Three Ways of Meeting Oppression,’ King leaves unused. Therefore, this text is largely unrhetorical; King puts the emphasis on his argument – trying to convince others that a non-violent strategy is the one that will work to remove the evil of oppression. King also takes great pains to argue that the first two ways (acquiescence or violence) are both, in different ways, immoral. Therefore, quite apart from the practical benefits of a campaign of non-aggression, King is at pains to stress that non-violence has a moral superiority that acquiescence and violence lack. King’s argument contains references to the Bible which are designed to appeal to the Christianity of black and white alike. It is worth remembering that in the context of the times when this text was written it was not certain that a non-violent strategy would be adopted by the African American community – or that it would be successful in stopping oppression in the South. Indeed, other African American leaders, such as Malcolm X, were advocating violence as the only strategy or tactic that would work. Thus, King’s text works as a rejection of the more violent tactics promulgated by Malcolm X. The opening three paragraphs reject acquiescence as a way forward. King admits that acquiescence is “the easier way” because it involves no effort and consists of merely accepting the system that oppresses you. He uses Biblical analogies (the story of Moses liberating the Israelites from slavery in Egypt). He comes to the conclusion that acquiescence is immoral: “To accept injustice or segregation passively is to say to the oppressor that his actions are morally right.” Acquiescence, King argues, also convinces the oppressor that the system he has instituted is correct and right: The Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescing; he merely increases the oppressor’s arrogance and contempt. Acquiescence is interpreted as proof of the Negro’s inferiority. The Negro cannot win the respect of the white people of the South or the peoples of the world if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety. In this passage he is making clear to other African Americans that something must be done, and to sit back and do nothing is immoral.
The next three paragraphs argue against violence as a means of changing the situation. King takes a broad historical view of the matter and argues that “violence never brings permanent peace,” and “violence ends by defeating itself.” His argument, once again, is founded on morality. If African Americans were to follow the path of violence in order to end oppression, then they will become as morally bankrupt as their oppressors and their revenge will produce long lasting resentments and a permanent desire for revenge on the part of white Americans in the South. Violence, King argues, can only provide a temporary solution, even though its speed might appeal to some African Americans. King is unequivocal in his rejection of violent methods and in the final four paragraphs of this text he argues that non-violence is the best way forward – for practical reasons, but also for moral ones. He asserts that African Americans must “rise to the noble height of opposing the unjust system while loving the perpetrators of the system”; they must continually strive for equal rights, but “must not use inferior methods to achieve it” and in the struggles to come against segregation and inequality they must reject “falsehood, malice, hate, or destruction.” Apart from his moral stance, King writing is explicitly Christian with references to Moses in the Old Testament and to St. Peter in the New. Even his injunction to love “the perpetrators of the system” echoes Christ’s commandment to love our enemies and to turn the other cheek. King is able in his final, concluding paragraph to stand back form the particular circumstances of the American South and the burgeoning Civil Rights movement to write that “it is not a struggle between people at all, but a tension between justice and injustice.” This is a succinct and powerful argument for non-violence as a way of changing an unjust situation. Its tone is calm and peaceful, yet full of determination and a confidence that suggest s King is fully convinced of the cause he is struggling for. The text is full also of a high moral tone – which rejects other strategies such as acquiescence and violence.
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The Three Characteristics Ways of Meeting Oppression
Filed Under: Essays
According to Martin Luther King Jr. , what are the three characteristic ways in meeting oppression? The Three Characteristics Ways of meeting oppression Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s “The Ways of Meeting Oppression” is a division and classification essay in which King explains the ways in which oppressed people meet oppression. He states that, historically, oppressed people have responded to their oppression in negative ways either resulting in their total destruction or prolonging their oppression.
King challenges the oppressed Negro to meet oppression positively and effectively. In the essay, he examines the three characteristics ways of meeting oppression. He divides these ways and classifies each ranging from the ineffective to the most effective way of meeting oppression. In his examination, King characterizes acquiescence, violence, and nonviolent resistance as the three characteristic ways of meeting oppression. First, King describes acquiescence as the most passive and ineffective characteristic way of meeting oppression.
The Essay on The relations of King Abdulaziz bin Abddulrahman Al Saud
King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud was the first King of Saudi Arabia and ruled between 1932 and 1953. He was also referred to as “Abdul-“Aziz Ibn Saud’ or Ibn Saud by the Western nations. Being a member of the family of Al-Saud, his ancestors had ruled during the eighteenth century. King Abdulaziz is acknowledged as one of the most charismatic Arab leader, who under his powerful leadership ...
King declares that this way of meeting oppression is a way in which the oppressed resign themselves to their doom. In addition, he explains that this characteristic way is ineffective because “the Negro cannot win the respect of his oppressor by acquiescence, it will be interpreted as proof of the Negro’s inferiority” (382).
According to King, the Negro cannot win the respect of the white people if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety.
Second, King explains that while violence is not a passive characteristic, it is an equally ineffective way of meeting oppression. He notes that though violence may bring momentary results, “it solves no social problem; it merely creates new and more complicated ones” (382).
He explains that violence is a behavior that is intended to hurt-physically. According to King, to resort to physical violence or corroding hatred is both impractical and immoral. He explains that it is impractical because it destroys both parities and is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.
Third, King illuminates that nonviolent resistance is a positive characteristic and effective way of meeting oppression. He explains that nonviolent resistance is that act of acquiescence and violence combined. King states that “with nonviolent resistance, no individual or group need submit to any wrong” (383).
He affirms that this way of meeting oppression is most effective because the Negro will rise to noble height while fighting an unjust system, making a lasting contribution to the moral strength of the nation and enlist all men of good will in his struggle for equality.
In conclusion, King’s work addresses the three characteristics ways of meeting oppression. He enlightens the reader to the idea that acquiescence is an in effective way of meeting oppression because it resigns him to his doom and wins not respect from his oppressor. King explains that violence is also ineffective for it is both impractical and immoral. King affirms that of the three ways of meeting oppression, nonviolent resistance is the most positive and effective way of meeting oppression because it seeks to bring opposing forces together for positive change.
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