Direct action may be needed to address climate change
Nonviolent direct action - often criticised for bypassing representative democracy - can have both political and moral legitimacy in the face of inertia over major issues like social injustice and climate change, says the co-director of a Christian think tank.
Commenting in the light of recent protests at Heathrow Airport and elsewhere, Jonathan Bartley of Ekklesia declared on BBC Radio 4: "Peaceful troublemaking can be unpopular - even amongst sympathisers to a cause. One of Gandhi's major influences, Jesus, turned over then tables of local businessmen in the temple - the locus of religious, economic and political power. His action came just a few days before his death. Protest is tolerated provided it doesn't impact people's day-to-day lives.
"And that is why direct action is considered necessary in the current situation. We may feel climate change should be addressed. We are reluctant to make the necessary sacrifices. What some might call a daring prophetic act can jolt us out of our apathy.
"The global nature of the problem also provides a further justification. Gandhi used direct action to reach out to those who were previously excluded from the campaign for self-determination. Civil disobedience, almost by definition, is about the disenfranchised. It is about giving a voice to those who are excluded from the usual channels."
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