The season for nonviolence celebrates the leaders in world history who used nonviolence to create peace and equality.
Created by Arun Gandhi, Mohandas Gandhi’s grandson, the season runs from Jan 30 to April 4. It focuses on the teachings and practices of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gandhi, also known as Mahatma or “Great Soul,” is famous for nonviolent protests against British ruling of India. A peaceful leader, Gandhi supported tactics such as negotiation rather than war or battle.
He was known for helping those in poverty and overseeing humanitarian projects, such as building new schools or hospitals. One of his most memorable protests was leading thousands of Indians on a 250 mile march to escape the power of the British. It was Gandhi’s leadership that partly inspired the development of King’s nonviolent policies.
King led other African-Americans during the civil rights movement. He was the president and founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which formed to unite African-Americans churches in non-violent protest. King also led the Montgomery Bus Boycott against racial segregation on public transportation in Montgomery, Alabama.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” King said in his “I Have a Dream” speech in the 1963 march on Washington.
The start of the season of nonviolence coincides with Black History Month in February, a dedication of King.
Robert Ross, an assistant professor of political science at Utah State, said these nonviolent protests and policies influenced the course of political movements throughout history.
“The use of nonviolent protest as a positive means of organizing necessary political discourse … it raises a consciousness,” Ross said. “In particular, with Martin Luther King and that movement was that it raised good questions about what constitutes a good regime, what constitutes a good life, questions of justice, questions of equality. These conceptions that are fundamental to understanding American political life.”
Non-violent protests are used today to bring awareness to current social issues, Ross said.
“You look at the recent non-violent protests that have gone on, one big one is the NFL, with the protest during the national anthem. It definitely raised the awareness to the situation but it also created a pretty drastic tension between the two sides,” he said. “I think that (these situations) can only benefit society as we engage in meaningfully in that kind of dialogue.”
Many observe the season of nonviolence with small actions of kindness towards others. Others pay respect to the memory of Gandhi and King by trying to find peace in everyday situations.