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
statement.


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.

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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
possible.”
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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