Gene Sharp, icon of non-violent resistance, dies at 90

Nathaniel Katz

Gene Sharp, an icon of non-violent resistance brought back hope that peace is achievable by using exclusively non-violent means. To celebrate his life, we look at the practical and theoretical contributions he made to the peacebuilding field.

 

Gene Sharp, an icon of non-violent struggle, passed away on the 28 January 2018 in Boston at the grand age of 90. At Peace Direct, we are extremely grateful for his contribution to the field of non-violent theory and local peacebuilding.

Gene Sharp believed passionately in non-violent means to resolve conflicts. From his small office in Boston at the Albert Einstein Institution which he founded 1983, Sharp made his voice (and that of many others who he inspired) louder.  Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, he wrote what is often referred to as “a handbook for non-violent revolt”; From Dictatorship to Democracy: A conceptual framework for liberation. It was published in the 1990’s and has inspired many activists looking for a way out of cruel and repressive governments.

Sharp advocated for conscious non-violent action for change. His pragmatic, rather than philosophical approach, focused on how to get things done and turned theoretical ideas into practical tools to support and empower social movements. He believed in long term and sustainable peace, one that would be achieved through strategically following the steps to freedom.

 

 His pragmatic, rather than philosophical approach, focused on how to get things done and turned theoretical ideas into practical tools to support and empower social movements.

 

He reminded us of the power of local people, ordinary people. Through his passion for empowering the grassroots, Sharp provided them with 198 methods of non-violent action and gave them (and the rest of us) hope and opportunity for a better future: built by the local people themselves.

Gene Sharp brought back hope that peace is achievable by using exclusively non-violent means, he taught us all a lesson and proved his genuine dedication to this cause. We are very grateful for what he brought to the rapidly growing group of peacebuilders all around the world. Let’s all build on Sharp’s work and trust his words that change can only be brought by local people: “Liberation from dictatorships ultimately depends on the people’s ability to liberate themselves.”

 

He remains a source of inspiration for all who believe that non-violent actions led by local people is the way to bring about sustainable peace.

 

He will remain a source of inspiration for all who believe that non-violent actions led by local people is the way to bring about sustainable peace. As we say at Peace Direct: “conflict is a normal part of life, violence is not” so, let’s all start a revolution for peace.

Gene Sharp’s book “From Dictatorship to Democracy” along with many other resources are available to download online from the Albert Einstein Institution’s website: https://www.aeinstein.org/

From Dictatorship to Democracyhttps://www.aeinstein.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/FDTD.pdf

 

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