“Without a direct action expression of it, nonviolence, to my mind, is meaningless.” M.K. Gandhi
Nonviolence is neither a passive acceptance of oppression, nor a violent opposition to it. Instead, nonviolence is active. Nonviolent action implies a commitment to utilizing nonviolent and creative means (e.g. acts of protest and persuasion, noncooperation, direct action, civil disobedience, boycotts, strikes, and education) to resist violent forces in order to influence and encourage social change.
Gene Sharp outlines three methods of Nonviolent Action that serve to undermine unequal systems of power while encouraging the creation of innovative and alternative solutions (Sharp, Politics of Nonviolent Action, 1973, pp. 109-445):
- Nonviolent protest and persuasion are “symbolic acts of peaceful opposition” often used to denounce or show dissent toward a specific issue or policy. These methods are also used to gain publicity for a cause. Parades, vigils, picketing, posters, teach-ins and the other educational forums, mourning, and protest meetings are all considered acts of protest and persuasion.
- Noncooperation involves intentionally removing oneself from cooperation or relations with a disagreeable activity or institution. Common methods are strikes, boycotts, divestment of funds, and acts of civil disobedience through peaceful violation of laws or regulations.
- Nonviolent intervention encompasses methods that disrupt or deconstruct established institutions, behaviors, or policies that are viewed as undesirable by the nonviolent actor. Nonviolent interventions may also strive to create new patterns and institutions to take their place. Methods of disruption might include nonviolent occupations, blockades, fasting, and seeking imprisonment, in order to over-fill facilities. Methods of creating new structures might include the construction of alternative schools, media, transport, markets, and other political, economic, and social institutions.
FOR Peace Presence is a pacifist organization focused on understanding and dismantling the global ties that permit and facilitate modern day conflict and violence across the globe. We reveal and share with our supporters the links between international policy and its oftentimes-dire consequences overseas, as well as the consequences of the oppressive policies of the Global North and its effects in Colombia in general.
Our method of nonviolent action is namely one of protest and persuasion, but not in the traditional sense. We organize protest through campaigns and by carrying out our programmatic accompaniment work, which stand in opposition to illicit acts of direct violence upon nonviolent resisters in Colombia. When an at-risk community or individual committed to carrying out nonviolent acts of resistance and organizing requests our presence, we support them.
We support nonviolent resisters who utilize a breadth of nonviolent methods, from activists attending protests, communities initiating negotiations with multinational corporations, or the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, enacting a lifestyle of noncooperation by establishing an intentional community and declaring neutrality. We also seek to inform international audience about the social, political and cultural context. We ask that they critically examine the often violent power structures under which they live, and encourage them to consider incorporating nonviolent action in their own lives.
The strength of any form of resistance lies in its ability to remain alive, to remain an active struggle; An ability to remain alive lies in establishing diversity through local and international links between peoples, struggles, and movements that form networks to exchange ideas, tactics, and create community.