Cesar Chavez, From "He Showed Us the Way, April 1978How does Cesar Chavez argue in support of nonviolent means of protest?  

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chavez pulls from Dr. King as inspiration for his speech.  The basic ideas he advocates are that human beings who are concerned about the exploitation of workers and the alleviation of poverty are, by definition, going to be predisposed to using nonviolence as a means of achieving their goal of social and economic equality.  Those who are concerned with the disproportionality of wealth distribution value human life.  For Chavez, this means that using violence would be counter productive because violence will escalate, causing more suffering, and violence reduces the dignity of human life, the precise opposite of the aspirations of those who are aligning themselves with Chavez.  In order to bring dignity to this struggle against a lack of it in the status quo, nonviolence has to be adopted in order to bring dignity to those who seek to incorporate more of it in daily life:  "The boycott, as Gandhi taught, is the most nearly perfect instrument of nonviolent change, allowing masses of people to participate actively in a cause."  Chavez's argument is logically sound because his entire movement is driven against the dehumanization of workers and owners who do not see the suffering caused by unfair labor practices.  Chavez argues that if violence is a means to bring about change, it will bring about the same dehumanization of human beings that the movement is about.  In linking violence to dehumanization, Chavez's argument proves that nonviolence is the only way to bring dignity to all parties, to change the current way of thinking into one where all parties are respected.  In using nonviolence, Chavez argues that in order to bring about real change, one cannot take the world around them, but rather transcend it.