The Nonviolent Story: Jesus and Nonviolent Conflict

Three Forms of Nonviolent Power


There are three basic ways in which we can use nonviolent power. That is, power that doesn’t use violence.


These ways are: protest and persuasion, noncooperation and intervention.


Imagine this child – maybe your child, maybe a child you know. You’ve asked the child to clean up their toys. You think it’s a reasonable demand, but the child is not impressed. You are stopping the fun time. The child says, “No,” and you say, “yes, you will!” And so begins the battle.


Now, you’re bigger and older than the child. You can raise your voice, you can stand over the child. When I was a child and I did something my parents didn’t like, they might even hit me with a wooden spoon!


The child can’t hit back very hard, but has other “weapons” that he or she can use.

First, the child might protest, “I don’t want to clean up, I’m having too much fun!” Then she might try to use persuasion, “Just give me five more minutes – I promise I’ll clean up then.”


If that doesn’t work the child might resort to noncooperation, and simply not do what you ask. No matter how angry you get. she just sits there with her arms crossed and an angry look on his face. If the child uses this tactic there really is nothing we can do to make the child to do what we want.

Even if we try to make the child afraid of us, noncooperation is a very powerful tool of nonviolent action. And I know from experience, as a parent, that I end up feeling so sad that I’ve wanted my own child to be afraid of me.


Finally, if a child still can’t get what she wants she might stand between you and the toys, preventing you from starting to clean up. This is nonviolent intervention.


Nonviolent action can be a very powerful force. And it is used everyday, in our homes, our schools, our workplaces and our governments.