...it does not require a majority to prevail,
but rather an irate, tireless minority keen
to set brush fires in people's minds... - Samuel
Adams There is all the difference in the world
between the criminal's avoiding the public eye
and the civil disobedience's taking the law
into his own hands in open defiance. This distinction
between an open violation of the law, performed
in public, and a clandestine one is so glaringly
obvious that it can be neglected only by prejudice
or ill will.
-- Hannah Arendt
all nonviolence is - organized love. --Joan
would say that I'm a nonviolent soldier. In
place of weapons of violence, you have to use
your mind, your heart, your sense of humor,
every faculty available to you...because no
one has the right to take the life of another
human being. --Joan
world censures those who take up arms to defend
their causes and calls on them to use nonviolent
means in voicing their grievances. But when
a people chooses the nonviolent path, it is
all too often the case that hardly anyone pays
attention. It is tragic that people have to
suffer and die and the television cameras have
to deliver the pictures to people's homes every
day before the world at large admits there is
-- Bishop Carlos
spoke out, committed civil disobedience, and went
to jail because the peace hangs senselessly and
precariously upon weapons costing billions to
build and billions to improve — weapons which
become more useless as we add to their destructive
force. With this money we could have fed the world's
people. Half the children on earth go to bed hungry
— millions more have retarding and stunting protein
deficiencies. Instead of building the peace by
attacking injustices like starvation, disease,
illiteracy, political and economic servitude,
we spend a trillion dollars on war since 1946,
until hatred and conflict have become the international
-- Daniel Berrigan
we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination,
we accept the responsibility ourselves. We should,
therefore, protest openly everything ... that
smacks of discrimination or slander.
-- Mary McLeod
believe that we are at the point now, in the
United States, where a movement is beginning
to emerge. I think that the calamity, the quagmire
of the Iraq war, the outsourcing of jobs, the
drop-out of young people from the education
system, the monstrous growth of the prison-industrial
complex, the planetary emergency, which we are
engulfed at the present moment, is demanding
that instead of just complaining about these
things, instead of just protesting about these
things, we begin to look for, and hope for,
another way of living. And I think that-- that's
where the movement-- I-- I see a movement beginning
to emerge, 'cause I see hope beginning to trump
-- Grace Lee Boggs
strength of the movement is still something
that you will never see on camera, because it
doesn't happen at the big protests. But the
strength of this movement is rooted in the strength
of its components and of the campaigns of its
components. So there are farm movements around
the world; there are environmental movements
around the world; labor movements around the
world involved in daily struggles around living
wages, around protecting the rights of farmers
to their seeds, and so on. Those struggles continue
on a daily basis; they have not gone away.
-- John Cavanagh
first principle of non-violent action is that
of non-cooperation with everything humiliating."
is feasible even for those who are not heroes
by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe,
for those who fear the consequences and detest
the reality of the attempt to impose American
-- Noam Chomsky
there is a lower class, I am in it; while there
is a criminal element, I am of it; while there
is a soul in prison, I am not free.
-- Eugene V. Debs
am an American. I love my country and have great
hopes for it. It is for this reason that I speak
candidly and sometimes critically about it.
I have benefited greatly from the freedom that
exists in my country and for this I am eternally
-- Johnny Depp
Thus if the First Amendment means anything in
this field, it must allow protests even against
the moral code that the standard of the day
sets for the community. In other words, literature
should not be suppressed merely because it offends
the moral code of the censor. -- William O.
William O. Douglas
Never do anything against conscience even if
the state demands it.
-- Albert Einstein
in America we are descended in spirit from revolutionists
and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent
from accepted doctrine.
like to believe that people in the long run
are going to do more to promote peace than our
governments. Indeed, I think that people want
peace so much that one of these days governments
had better get out of the way and let them have
I think that people want peace so much that
one of these days governments had better get
out of the way and let them have it."
I was at a meeting two years ago in Beijing,
and I passed a bunch of women who were marching
in a protest. Their signs were probably saying
something I wouldn't have agreed with at all.
But I was so glad to see women marching. And
it's happening all over the world.
-- Betty Friedan
It should be remarked that, as the principle of
liberty is better understood, and more nobly interpreted,
a broader protest is made in behalf of women.
As men become aware that few have had a fair chance,
they are inclined to say that no women have had
a fair chance.
-- Margaret Fuller
is an attempt to awaken the masses, to a sense
of their dignity and power. This can only be
done by enabling them to realize that they need
not fear brute force, if they would but know
the soul within.”
-- Mohandas K.
unjust law is itself a species of violence.
Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law
of nonviolence says that violence should be
resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence.
This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully
submitting to arrest and imprisonment.”
-- Mohandas K.
is a measure of discipline and sacrifice, and
it demands respect for the opposite views.
~ Mohandas Gandhi
am aware that many object to the severity of
my language; but is there not cause for severity?
I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising
as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to
think, or to speak, or write, with moderation.
No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to
give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately
rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher;
tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe
from the fire into which it has fallen; — but
urge me not to use moderation in a cause like
the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate
— I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single
inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.”
Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any
immediate and visible political effect can gradually
and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
-- Vaclav Havel
women in many countries are taking part in various
types of movements of protest, some of which
are serious struggles for economic and social
"I became convinced that noncooperation with
evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation
with good. No other person has been more eloquent
and passionate in getting this idea across than
Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings
and personal witness, we are the heirs of a
legacy of creative protest." --
who in engage in nonviolent direct action are
not the creators of tension. We merely bring
to the surface the hidden tension that is already
-- Martin Luther
became convinced that noncooperation with evil
is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation
with good.” --
must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane
of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative
protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again
and again we must rise to the majestic heights of
meeting physical force with soul force.
-- Martin Luther King,
sin by silence when they should protest makes
cowards of men.”
-- Abraham Lincoln
King consciously steered away from legal claims and
instead relied on civil disobedience.
Constance Baker Motley (First Black Woman in the U.S.
to become a Federal Judge)
must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We
will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason
if we remember that we are not descended from
fearful men, not from men who feared to write,
to speak, to associate and to defend causes
which were, for the moment, unpopular.
-- Edward R.
I believe that Gandhi was correct. Non-violent
civil disobedience is the only way to bring
about change that allows people to enjoy the
change and not get killed in the process.
-- Edward James
are here, not because we are law-breakers; we
are here in our efforts to become law-makers.
labor movement means just this: It is the last
noble protest of the American people against the
power of incorporated wealth.
-- Wendell Phillips
and stand together. Claim something together,
and at once; let the nation hear a united demand
from the laboring voice, and then, when you
have got that, go on after another; but get
We must develop huge demonstrations, because
the world is used to big dramatic affairs. They
think in terms of hundreds of thousands and
millions and billions... Billions of dollars
are appropriated at the twinkling of an eye.
Nothing little counts.
-- A. Philip
when they call us mad, when they call us subversives
and communists and all the epithets they put
on us, we know we only preach the subversive
witness of the Beatitudes, which have turned
everything upside down.
-- Oscar Romero
we allow one group of people to look down
upon another, then we may for a short time
bring hardship on some particular group of
people, but the real hardship and the real
wrong is done to democracy and to our nation
as a whole. We are then breeding people who
cannot live under a democratic form of government
but must be controlled by force. We have but
to look out into the world to see how easy
it is to become stultified, to accept without
protest wrongs done to others, and to shift
the burden of decision and responsibility
for any action onto some vague thing called
a government or some individual called a leader.
demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but
alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars
will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight,
when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships
and aircraft, when people boycott the economic
outposts of Empire that are strung across the
-- Arundhati Roy
an individual is protesting society's refusal
to acknowledge his dignity as a human being,
his very act of protest confers dignity on him.”
-- Bayard Rustin Disobedience, the rarest and
most courageous of the virtues, is seldom distinguished
from neglect, the laziest and commonest of the
-- George Bernard
Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism,
are all too frequently those who . . . ignore
some of the basic principles of Americanism—the
right to criticize, the right to hold unpopular
beliefs, the right to protest, the right of
I honestly do not know if civil disobedience has
any effect on the government. I can promise you
it has a great effect on the person who chooses
to do it. Martin Sheen The burning of rebellious
thoughts in the little breast, of internal hatred
and opposition, could not long go on without slight
whiffs of external smoke, such as mark the course
of subterranean fire.
-- Harriet Beecher
developed world has a vast, under-utilized asset that
is not being leveraged to its best advantage: idealistic
people who want to make the world a better place.
For most of a century, idealistic people have been
encouraged to use anger, protest, lobbying, and legal
action in order to make the world a better place.
While most certainly some of these behaviors and activities
were necessary, we have reached the point at which
the social benefit of such behaviors is decreasing.
We have reached the point at which creation, rather
than attack, ought to be the first obligation of reformers.
The social entrepreneurship movement is the first
tip of this iceberg. We want to create a world in
which all idealists realize that the creation of new
enterprises is the most powerful way to make positive
change in the world. If all the energy that is currently
invested in zero-sum political conflict was gradually
transferred to the committed creation of sustainable
enterprises, the cumulative impact on behalf of the
good would be extraordinary.
-- Michael Strong
is able to protest against the transgressions of his
own family and does not do so is punished for the
transgressions of his family. Whoever is able to protest
against the transgressions of his community and does
not do so is punished for the transgressions of his
community. Whoever is able to protest against the
transgressions of the entire world and does not do
so is punished for the transgressions of the entire
Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.
The obedient must be slaves.
-- Henry David
think that we should be men first, and subjects
afterward. It is not so desirable to cultivate
a respect for the law, so much as for the right.
-- Henry David
is not a man's duty, as a matter of course,
to devote himself to the eradication of any,
even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly
have other concerns to engage him; but it is
his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it,
and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to
give it practically his support. If I devote
myself to other pursuits and contemplations,
I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue
them sitting upon another man's shoulders.
-- Henry David
the machine of government... is of such a nature that
it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another,
then, I say, break the law.
-- Henry David Thoreau
you are neutral in situations of injustice,
you have chosen the side of the oppressor."
man must for himself alone decide what is right
and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and
which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man.
To decide against your conviction is to be an
unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself
and to your country, let men label you as they
-- Mark Twain
leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary
~Veterans Fast for Life
downtrodden class... will never be able to make
an effective protest until it achieves solidarity.
-- H.G. Wells
There may be times when we are powerless to prevent
injustice, but there must never be a time when
we fail to protest.
-- Elie Wiesel
Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had
men's views confided to me privately. Some of
the biggest men in the United States, in the
Field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid
of something. They know that there is a power
somewhere -- so organized, so subtle, so watchful,
so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive --
that they better not speak above their breath
when they speak in condemnation of it. -- Woodrow
“Protest beyond the law is not a departure from
democracy; it is absolutely essential to it.