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Power Does Not Come From a Gun


Power. A word from which many meanings derive. To each 

individual, it means something distinct and it is how one uses their

power that makes up who they are. Power does not come from the barrel 

of a gun. A gun can do nothing without someone there to pull the 

trigger. The power to take a life rests within the person, the gun 

simply serving as their tool. When groups protesting for a cause they 

believe in use violent tactics, do they ever accomplish anything? When 

we kill , what do we achieve? To say that power lies in the barrel of 

a gun is to say that the most effective way to get what we want, or 

what we feel we deserve is to murder. It is only those with no faith 

in their dreams, or belief in themselves who could make such a 


 Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "If a man hasn't found 

something he will die for, he isn't fit to live." A leader in the 

Black community and the recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, 

King's accomplishment of attaining civil rights for Blacks was a

great one, but the road to achievement was long and full of 

sacrifices. It was a time when Blacks had no rights and most of

them accepted this as the way it was and no one could do anything 

about it. Most of them, but not King. When the police arrested a black 

woman for sitting in the front of the bus and refusing to give up her 

seat to a white woman, King led a committee that organized a boycott 

of buses. The results were that on April 23, 1956, the Supreme Court 

ruled that "segregation in public transportation is unconstitutional" 

and that South Carolina as well as 12 other states must remove the

"whites only" signs that hung in the front of the buses. This was just 

the beginning, he vowed to continue his fight using "passive 

resistance and the weapon of love". He helped establish the Southern 

Christian Leadership Conference, and became its first president. Then 

in 1957, King met with Vice-president Nixon in Washington to "discuss 

racial problems . He went on to lead protests, demonstrations and 

marches, making the non-violent resistance stronger than it had ever 

been before. He succeeded in making people aware that every human 

being is born equal and that no one should be denied his civil rights.

 Martin Luther King had a dream and he knew that there was only 

one way to make it come true, to wake up and to take action. He was a 

true example of someone putting their power to good use. He started 

his life with a disadvantage, he was hated because of the color of his 

skin, but he did not let that stop him. He was arrested, thrown in 

jail, stabbed, stoned, he even had his home bombed. Through it all, he 

refused to give up, he had found a cause worth dying for and he did. 

He was murdered on the night of April 4, 1968. People tried to use 

their power to stop him and his fight. In the end, they may have 

succeeded in killing its leader, but the battle against racism lived 

on. Looking back, people say that Martin Luther King Jr. was a very 

powerful man. I have never heard anyone say his attackers or his 

murderers had. "I am indeed, a practical dreamer. My dreams are not 

airy nothings. I want to convert my dreams into realities, as far as 


 Mahatma is the name the people of India gave to Mohandas 

Karamchand Gandhi. The meaning is Great Soul, and they considered him 

as the father of their nation. He named his autobiography, "The story 

of My Experiments With Truth." That was, after all, what his life was 

about: the truth and his search to find it. He was against violence in 

any form, he felt there existed better methods of accomplishing 

things, and he proved to be successful. he made up his won technique 

for social action that he called satyagraha, "non-violent resistance 

to injustice and wrong." Gandhi's actions were guided by his 

philosophy that the way a person behaves is more important than what 

he achieves. It was these tactics that he used in his fight for 

India's independence.

 Gandhi was a lawyer, on a business trip to South Africa and he 

was greeted with prejudice and discrimination against the fellow

Indians living there. What was supposed to be a trip, ended up being a 

21 year stay as he began to work towards a cause he believed in, 

Indian rights. He launched a newspaper entitles, "Indian Opinion" that 

was published weekly. He returned to India and soon after became the 

leader of the Indian Nationalistic Movement. He led a satyagraha 

campaign, but the moment riots broke out, he canceled it. It was 

defeating its own purpose if violence was involved. Gandhi brought 

about many economic and social reforms; he led campaigns, strikes, 

demonstrations, and achieved many great things. The people of India 

will always be grateful to him, for he played the major role in 

acquiring freedom for their country, which Great Britain finally 

granted in the year 1947. Although he may not have been large in 

build, his strengths when it came to the issue he believed in as well 

as his moral values, were immeasurable. He found something to fight 

for and he did, never suing violence, even if it could have worked to

his advantage. He was a man much like Martin Luther King Jr., both 

achieving civil rights for their people and attempting to abolish 

discrimination. Unfortunately, Gandhi too, suffered from his 

opposition. he too was arrested on several occasion and was the victim 

of murder. The day he dies was one marked with grief, but not a 

weakness on his part. No one thought on that day, Gandhi lost his 

power and his murderers achieved it. Reflecting on his life, one could 

describe it as a series of historical events.

 Gandhi defined a satyagraha as one with the persistent hope, 

"who followed a vision of truth and tried to deploy the strength of

truth and love in daily life. I believe that that is an accurate 

description of is own character. "In the name of our party's movement, 

The Syrian Muslim Party of Justice, we declare that the blood of all 

Jews living in Syria will be spilled starting on Saturday the 13 of 

March 1994, according to Muslim month (1/Shawal 1414). May the 

almighty witness our deed."

 A special branch of the secret police in Syria --the 

Makhabrat-- was assigned to keep the Jewish community's activities 

under constant surveillance. Emigration of the Jews was forbidden. 

When Jews who still tried to escape illegally were caught, they were 

thrown in jail without a trial or charge. Jews were not permitted to 

be a candidate in an election nor were they granted voting rights. 

Travel was allowed only for medical treatment or to visit relatives In 

order to assure their return, they were required to leave as family 

members behind as well as large sums of money. There were restrictions 

on the numbers of Jews allowed to attend University, and the only 

Jewish schools in Damascus were ordered to accept a vast number of 

Palestinian students. The Jews were forced to wear identity cards, 

marking their religion on it. All mail from outside Syria was censored

and telephone calls were monitored.

 The Jews outside Syria found out what was going on and decided 

to take the matter into their own hands. Everyone went about it in 

their own individual way. Michael Schelew, national chairman of the 

Syrian Jewry Committee of B'nai Brith Canada's Institute for 

International Affairs and Paul Marcus, National Director of B'nai 

Birth Canada's Institute for International Affairs, wrote an article 

for the Leader-Post, a newspaper printed in Regina. The article was 

entitle, "The abuse of Jews a fact of life in Syria" and it exposed 

the truth about what was really going on there. NAHON, an organization 

that focuses mainly on social action and is made up exclusively of 

students, distributed this article as well as many others at one of 

their conventions, to promote awareness among students in Montreal. 

When Syrian President Hafez Assad made a commitment to allow the Jews

to leave freely in 1992, he did not honor his promise. 73 senators 

wrote a letter expressing their concern over this issue to President 

Clinton, urging him to "press Syria to honor its commitment to allow 

the Hews the right to travel freely." B'nai Brith Youth Organization 

began an international petition, requesting that "the Syrian 

government fulfill its promise and allow free emigration of Jews from 

the country" immediately. Everyone had their own way of helping, each 

individual and group used their power in their way, and together, we 

succeeded. The Jews in Syria are now to free to leave the country as 

they wish.

 Regardless of whether or not an individual is the president of 

the Unitd States or simply a student, they have the power. It is up to 

us to make the difference because the power remains with the people, 

not the gun. it is easy to walk blindly past the truth, to close our 

eyes and deny what is going on. It is easy to blame others and to say 

that unless we kill, there is nothing we can do. The ones who make use 

of their power are the heroes, the ones who are remembered. Do not 

follow the path set out for you, do as the people mentioned in this 

paper have. Pave you own, and leave a trail. Power does not lie within 

the barrel of a gun, it lies within you.



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