|Born||July 23, 1917
New York City
|Died||August 2, 1984
Sugarloaf Key, Florida
The injunction that we should love our neighbors as ourselves means to us equally that we should love ourselves as we love our neighbors.
To resort to power one need not be violent, and to speak to conscience one need not be meek. The most effective action both resorts to power and engages conscience.
Vengeance is not the point; change is. But the trouble is that in most people's minds the thought of victory and the thought of punishing the enemy coincide.
We learn best to listen to our own voices if we are listening at the same time to other women – whose stories, for all our differences, turn out, if we listen well, to be our stories also.
After the revolution, it might very well remain necessary to place people where they could not do harm to others. But the one under restraint should be cut off from the rest of society as little as possible.
The free man must be born before freedom can be won, and the brotherly man must be born before full brotherhood can be won. It will come into being only if we build it out of our very muscle and bone – by trying to act it out.
Think first of the action that is right to take, think later about coping with one's fears.
Nonviolent action does not have to get others to be nice. It can in effect force them to consult their consciences.
People who attack others need rationalizations for doing so. We undermine those rationalizations.
The point is to change one's life. The point is not to give some vent to the emotions that have been destroying one; the point is so to act that one can master them now.
We believe, in fact, that the one act of respect has little force unless matched by the other – in balance with it… The acting out of that dual respect I would name as precisely the source of our power.
Nonviolent tactics can move into action on our behalf men not naturally inclined to act for us.
All prisons that have existed in our society to date put people away as no human being should ever be put away.
Our task, of course, is to transmute the anger that is affliction into the anger that is determination to bring about change. I think, in fact, that one could give that as a definition of revolution.
Of course it can be said of jails, too, that they try – by punishing the troublesome – to deter others. No doubt, in certain instances this deterrence actually works. But generally speaking it fails conspicuously.
This is the heart of my argument: We can put more pressure on the antagonist for whom we show human concern.
I think the only choice that will enable us to hold to our vision… is one that abandons the concept of naming enemies and adopts a concept familiar to the nonviolent tradition: naming behavior that is oppressive.
After the revolution, let us hope, prisons simply would not exist – if by prisons we mean places that could be experienced by the men and women in them at all as every place that goes by that name now is bound to be experienced.
The longer we listen to one another – with real attention – the more commonality we will find in all our lives. That is, if we are careful to exchange with one another life stories and not simply opinions.