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The Year of “Nonviolence or Non-Existence”


The Year of “Nonviolence or Non-Existence”

Rev. John Dear

It’s our most important choice ever.

“Never could I advocate nonviolence in this country and not advocate nonviolence for the whole world. That’s my philosophy. I don’t believe in death and killing on any side, no matter who’s heading it up—whether it be America or any other country." (Photo: AP/Jack Thornell)


Very nice seeing you, John, on this site, and what a meaningful and profound commentary!

Dr. King’s message deserves constant review and application, no matter the difficulty or inconvenience.

King’s life and message on peace and justice were remarkable for their clarity. Besides this often-quoted, “Nonviolence or Non-existence.” I also recall his April 4, 1967 address, Beyond Vietnam, and his declaration, “War is not the answer.”


Couldn’t agree more; thank you.


I too appreciate this article, emphasizing Dr. King’s message. If only we could realize it’s simple truth.

I frequently wonder what Dr. King would make of Barrack Obama, with his weekly kill list, the increased use of drones, arms sales, and the refusal to honor his promise to close Guantanamo, just to name a few of his ‘accomplishments’.

I also have often imagined Dr. King as President. Talk about a dream.

Peace to us all.


I keep coming back to this. I was a C/O during Nam. Thou shall not kill. What is so hard to understand?


Also, I got to visit Thomas Merton’s grave in Kentucky. Something I’ll never forget. A simple unmarked headstone but what a giant life. To this day just the memory is deeply moving and I’m a Buddhist :slight_smile:


Ghandi and King were sexists!
Now is the time for retaliation.


I don’t see any effective resistance…at all. None. Violent or non-violent, neither one.
I took a class on Gandhi and non-violence in college, and while I understand it and it’s potential power, it still requires massive commitment and a willingness to be beaten, arrested, and even killed. It requires an enlightenment of spirit so far away from America today that the idea of a successful movement of non-violence at this point seems laughable.

I will tell you what is going to happen. The corporate fascists are going to take…and take and take…until there is nothing left. The American people will sit in their ignorance and apathy…projecting their anger against each other instead of against the fascists until people are literally dying of starvation and the jails full beyond capacity. Then finally when all is already lost…something will happen that will trigger the primal anger and rage that the population has been swallowing for the last fifty years and then, this country will burn. After enough killing…and the inevitable population adjustment to follow, the people will let their anger subside along with the rivers of blood…and they will allow the same types of criminals and conmen to start the whole charade all over again.

Yes I am at this point cynical…but I have a reason for it. I see nothing in America at all that leads me to believe we are capable of anything better.


King would have recognized Obama as an elitist corporate tool immediately. The moment he bailed out the banks and left millions of Americans twisting in the winds…everybody should have known. Still even today, the majority of the left consider him a good man. I couldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes.


And rehabilitated the R.s his first year in office - those whom he was ellected to trounce.


My brother told me when he got his draft notice for Nam he offered to be drafted as a C/O as long as he was not required to kill anyone. But the military refused, so he ended up going to Canada.


I flunked my physical before I got word about my filing for C/O. I got a 4F out of the deal, I could never serve. A friend of mine though was allowed to serve as a C/O, his duty was to stand at the reception line whenever the Queen of England showed up. So for 2 days he got dressed and stood in line That was the extent of his duty. Most ended up having to serve as medics. I was willing to go to Canada, Kinda glad I didn’t have too.


It is easy to perceive the reality you speak to. Not so easy to hold fast to the Truth that there is more to reality than we readily perceive with our cognitive minds alone.

Why are almost all of those, who, like M.L.K., connect the dots and stand firmly in the Truth regardless of external circumstances, profound spiritual practitioners?

Because only through opening to the larger Truth of who we are as humans can we manifest the courage, flexibility, and integrity to respond ably to the forces that continually challenge humanity.

But modern men generally prefer cynicism, despair and apathy to humility and surrender.

Modern men generally prefer to imagine that cutting themselves off from the agonies—and ecstasies—of the vulnerable will protect them from sharing their “awful” fate…

Modern men generally prefer to pretend that more of the same—mental supremacy, mental domination—will somehow produce different results. This allows them to excuse themselves from the hard work of tuning their own instruments to make more beautiful music for all, no matter what.

To say Americans can’t manifest the Dream is to say “yes” to that which gladly tortures and kill the Dreamers.

The spirit that moved M.L.K.—however “imperfectly”—lives inside each of us. Eternally.

If we choose not to manifest it, that is our choice. And the consequences are our responsibility.