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What Made Gandhi's Non Violence Movement Work?

564 words - 3 pages

Background Essay
The history of violence in the world is well documented. However it is also possible to use non-violence to bring about change. This DBQ will look at two countries where a non-violent movement was successful.

Historic Context
India and South Africa were two important nations on two different continents. But although they looked strong on the outside, each one suffered from a disease that threatened the health of the whole. For India, the disease was colonization. For South Africa, it was racial segregation.

Three Conditions
In each of these nations three conditions help explain why non-violence worked. The first condition was that both of them had been colonies of England. And like England both countries thought law was very powerful – more powerful even than government ...view middle of the document...

These are their stories.

Mohandas Gandhi – “An eye-for-an-eye only makes the whole world blind”
Mohandas Gandhi was born in 1869, in Porbandar, India. His father taught his son respect for all religions. His mother taught him that all living things are holy. Following custom, Gandhi married at age 13; his wife, Kasturbai, was even younger. At age 19 he went to London to study law, and at age 22 Gandhi completed his studies. He now felt more than ever that the English, who had ruled India for almost two centuries, were law-abiding and fair. Hopes high, he sailed for home.

Gandhi tried to set up a law practice in India but was so shy he failed miserably. When someone suggested he try his luck in South Africa, he jumped at the offer. But no sooner had he arrived there than he was thrown off a train, just for being a “colored” man holding a first class ticket! Even for a shy man, it was too great an insult. When he fought back he was sent to jail. It was there he became a leader, bringing about important changes for South Africa’s Indian community.

When Gandhi returned to India, he was paraded around like a hero because of his South African victories. But everywhere he looked he was horrified by the poverty he saw. He saw, too, that to be successful in the world the English had built. Indians had to imitate their rulers – their clothes, their manners, and their standards of beauty. Gandhi refused!

Gandhi wanted people to live free of all kinds of snobbery, even the ones imposed by India’s ancient caste system. The first thing he did was to build a different kind of community where he could model this classless society. He dressed in the clothes a poor man would wear and did chores an untouchable [people so low they are below caste] would do. Most Indians thought he was absurd. But slowly his strange ideas were accepted until Gandhi came to be known as ‘Mahatma’ or ‘Great Soul.’

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