The Power of Nonviolence


Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

Prof. Dietrich Fischer

Prof. Dietrich Fischer

When Ferdinand Marcos tried to rig elections to stay in power in the Philippines in 1986, two army units defected. He sent the rest of his army to crush them, but they were surrounded and protected by half a million unarmed civilians.

When a nun kneeled in front of a tank, prayed and did not move, the tank driver finally pulled back, because he just could not in good conscience crush a nun to death. If a soldier had tried to stop the tank by firing at it with a machine gun, the tank driver would hardly have stopped.

In the fall of 1989, when thousands of civilians held weekly demonstrations against the communist regime of the then German Democratic Republic in Leipzig, the police had orders to shoot at the demonstrators to disperse them.

The police waited for some pretext, like a stone thrown at them, or a Molotov cocktail, but the demonstrators remained absolutely nonviolent, and the police and army never fired. Soon the regime fell.

Violent demonstrations would probably have been brutally suppressed.


Dietrich Fischer, born in 1941 in Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 12 Oct 2015.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: The Power of Nonviolence, is included. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this article, please donate to TMS to join the growing list of TMS Supporters.

Share this article:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Comments are closed.