When the history of the 20th century is written, it shall record that Mohandas Koramchand Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. were at the forefront of that century's most important struggles: the struggle for freedom, the fight for equality, and the battle against violence. Accordingly, this book seeks to make a modest contribution in that regard by examining the nonviolent struggles of both men as they fought for freedom and equality.
Part I will examine the theoretical and conceptual tenets of nonviolence. No discussion of Gandhi and King would be complete without a thorough investigation of the means they so stridently and uncompromisingly advocated. This book is comparative in nature. As such, Chapter 1 illustrates the meaning of nonviolence by comparing it to violence. Not only is this an exercise in establishing what nonviolence is not—it is not intentionally inflicted physical or psychological harm—but this chapter also seeks to demonstrate affirmatively what nonviolence is. For, despite its name, nonviolence is more than a "non" -something. Its meaning, at least insofar as Gandhi and King took it, underscores a positive affirmation of life and spirituality that binds every human. It is the glue holding King's "beloved community" together and the "truth force" through which Gandhi stood nose to nose with the British Empire in South Africa and India.
Chapter 2 compares the two major types of nonviolence, namely philosophical and strategic. Some people believe in and practice nonviolence as a way of life. The Jain religion, for instance,