Saul Alinsky, a man of many virtues pioneered civil disobedience in the mid
Twentieth century by inspiring entire communities to act as a whole in order to effect a
specific cause. Historical figures such as Buddha, Jesus Christ, St. Francis of Assisi,
Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King have also encouraged various forms of civil
disobedience to achieve their goals of peace and justice.
Alinsky's rationale for this system of non-violent protest was clear. It
stemmed from Gandhi's moral belief that violence was wrong and his strategic belief that
violence was ineffective. For Gandhi understood a simple human truth -- that violence
brought on more violence and caused deeper hatred to occur. This was exemplified by his
famous words, "An eye for an eye long enough and we will all go blind." Some believe
that maybe Alinsky's Rationale stemmed from those of , Jesus Christ, and St.
Assisi as well.
More than three thousand years ago, the first widely recorded act of civil
disobedience occurred when Hebrew midwives stood up to the order of the Egyptian
pharaoh and refused to kill babies born to Hebrew mothers. Since that time the principles
of non-violence have been repeatedly advocated as a way to achieve positive social
change. The Greek playwright Aristophanes, in his classic play Lysistrata, invented a
witty plot by which the women of Athens and Sparta ended war between the rival city-
states by seducing their men with provocative actions and then denying them sex until a
treaty was signed. Most people can assimilate with these simple ideals that have been
presented in the past three thousand years.
The deeper I look into modern history of non-violence and civil disobedience, the
more I have come to respect their power. The techniques have played a key...