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The belief of pacifism has been followed by some of the most sagacious leaders in the world. We must ask ourselves, is there a reason for this? Pacifism is defined as “the belief that any violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstances, and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means” (Oxford Dictionary). To many, pacifism is not only a belief, it is a lifestyle practiced by people known as pacifists. The ideal pacifist will not fight because they are convinced peaceful dispute is the best resolution to conflict. There is no argument that peace is an essential factor in the world today, which not only allows for the growth of society, but for humanity as a whole. Pacifism has also been used throughout history as a safe means of protest and challenges the evil which dwells in the minds of hateful and racist people. Peace is the silent weapon which is wielded by many who understand the true strength of unity and love. Many have used peace in attempt to vanquish the immoralities of the world, such as racism. Peace and violence are two approaches to racism in the US that remain consistent. There have been many great leaders whom have devoted their lives to eliminating racism, and caused many riots which have brought attention to the topic. One thing assured, hate and racism is alive in the U.S. One pacifist named Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, in St. Ann Parish, Jamaica. He was a musician who had promoted messages of peace and love in his famous reggae music. He left an imprint on America through his story and his songs. He was a Rastafarian who held strong morals, and sought a more peaceful world. Born to a black mother and white father, Marley saw no reason for unjust treatments due to skin tones. He believed his music was special, and thought he could make a difference in the world through it. Bob Marley wished to rid the world of hatred and racism with his music; he had strong opinions and songs that fight mental oppression, spread peace, and promote proper moral etiquette.
A constant message delivered in Marley songs is to fight oppression. Oppression being “an act or instance of oppressing or subjecting to cruel or unjust impositions or restraints” (Oxford Dictionary). A prime example of oppression would be when early America had enslaved Indians and African Americans. These people were oppressed both physically and mentally, yet we only have removed the physical attribute to an extent because slavery(physical) is illegal and racism(mental) still continues today. Marley’s goal was to fight racism(a form of mental oppression) with music.
Marley delivers the message of freeing yourself from slavery of the mind(mental oppression) in his “Redemption Song.” In the lyrics of this song Marley says, “emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.” In this he is saying we are the only one’s who can choose to let slavery of the mind possess us. No matter what is keeping you down, whether it is depression or the social class you are in, Marley makes it clear only you can free yourself of it. There is many people in the U.S. bothered by the problem of racism but Marley is saying to not let it affect you. He wished to unify people against the idea of racism through his music. He influenced more than just the U.S. with his message too; in one biography touching upon his impact it states, “The Bob Marley influence upon various populations remains unparalleled, irrespective of race, color or creed. Bob Marley’s revolutionary yet unifying music, challenging colonialism, racism, “fighting against ism and scism” (Bob Marley Official Site).
Another example of oppression is the abuse of authority. This is a form of physical oppression alike to bullying and we see this in many places in the U.S. today. For instance, police officers abusing their power in dealing with suspects violently. Many people have sought justice, as they feel oppressed by these government powers and have not only seen this as the evil it really is, but have begun to riot over the topic. This is exactly what happened in Ferguson, Missouri in the shooting of Michael Brown. Many African Americans have realized the oppression, or otherwise form of racial discrimination, and have reacted with not only protest, but violence. They have followed Marley’s idea of fighting oppression through unity, although they are carrying it out through violence was not what he wished(he was pacifist). Marley encouraged people to stand up for their rights as a human being in his song “Get up, Stand up” saying, “get up, stand up, stand up for your right, get up, stand up, don’t give up the fight.” People who listen to this song are encouraged to receive their rights and speak out.
Marley, growing up in poverty himself, wished for people to battle the both the physical and mental oppression of poverty. He uses himself as an example of someone whom did battle with this oppression and won. There is poverty everywhere you go in Jamaica but it is also a problem recognized in the US too. Although Marley did not see wealth as true value and he believed the homeless should not be looked down upon. He said, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively”(The Life of Bob Marley). Marley sees quality personality traits as a true wealth, just as peace is a quality trait of a nation. The people who live in the ghettos of the US are oppressed by poverty, but just as Marley did, they can escape it too. The only way to achieve is by freeing their minds from the idea that they are setup for failure. Marley sees oppression as an obstacle in life that can be averted if contemplated and reasoned. One of many topics Marley’s life was devoted to was the battle against oppression.
Marley’s goal to spread peace was a key attribute of his character. He believed in unity and that everyone should come together to battle the world’s real problems. He states, “We need to love one another, live in peace and harmony. Instead, we quarrel and fight”(The Life of Bob Marley). In this quote, Marley is exemplifying his dreams of the world progressing in peace and love. This links him to pacifism in America because he also delivers this message through many of his songs.
Marley being a pacifist, tried to bring about peace in his community. When he lived in Jamaica, his most memorable achievement was performing a concert for free at “Smile Jamaica” with the goal of uniting the corrupt politics of the country. Marley was preparing the night of the concert with his band, including his wife Rita, when they were attacked by a shooter. Only minorly wounded by the attack that had attempted to prevent the concert, Marley, was patched up and courageously performed that very night even without some of his band members who were put in the hospital. His response to the attack was one of his greatest quotes, “The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking the day off. Why should I” (The Future is the beginning). Marley shows his relentless effort to spread peace in this world through this quote. He refuses to let the evil and hateful people of this world to stop him.
What drove Marley so crazy to spread peace? Love. Love was Marley’s fuel in his relentless heart to bring peace to the world. While he lived in Jamaica, he wrote a song that displayed his hopes for the government to settle in peace and set aside all disputes. His song “One Love” says, “One love! One heart! Let’s get together and feel all right. Hear the children cryin’ (One love!) Hear the children cryin’ (One heart!), Sayin’ give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right, Sayin’ let’s get together and feel alright.” “One love and one heart” meaning to unite as one in love and understanding. “Let’s get together and feel alright” and “hear the children crying” refers to the peace he wants and how affected even the children are by the turmoil in Jamaica. His love for Jamaica and all the world helped him to deliver such simple yet such powerful messages through his songs.
Respect was another way Marley had sought to spread peace in the world. Eliminating any and all racial discrimination would allow for a world with far less oppression. Marley also made it clear that in all the battles between races he was a part of neither on the victim or the racist’s side. In a statement on racism Marley claimed, “I don’t stand for the black man’s side, I don’ t stand for the white man’s side. I stand for God’s side”(The Life of Bob Marley). He claims the importance of God’s judgment, and he believes that is the only opinion that matters. Respect is deserved by all human beings and as we know with respect for others you will receive back. Mutual respect is another peace could be spread in this world and Marley recognized this.
Lastly, promoting proper moral etiquette was important in lives of people all over the world. Marley knew delivering this message in his music and behavior would set an example for immoral people of the world whom aroused conflict. Marley had strong morals which gave him such a genuine conscience and vast wisdom. His morals were the anti-politics of salvation through love, an unshakeable knowledge of the oneness of all humankind. Most of the songs Marley had created held positive messages.
Marley was a Rastafarian whom had strong core beliefs. The Rastafari created a wide variety of spiritual and moral variation within their religion. Some Rastafarians see Rasta more as a way of life, and others see it more as a religion. Marley saw it as a way of life because he also believed in God and saw Rastafarianism as a good spiritual and moral connection to the world. The Rastafarian lifestyle usually included ritual use of marijuana, avoidance of alcohol, the wearing of one’s hair in dreadlocks (this was because the body was seen as pure in itself), and vegetarianism. Marley said that “Rastafari is not a culture, it’s a reality”(The Life of Bob Marley). Saying this, Marley means that his life and the decisions he makes connect to Rastafarianism.
Marley hoped to promote correct morals to immoral people with his music. He wanted to remove hatred from the world and replace it with love. Marley literally believed his music had healing powers. With his music, Marley wanted to heal the world of all hatred. He saw hatred as darkness and his music as light. When Marley performed, he was “lighting up the darkness”(The Future is the Beginning) and bringing love in to replace the hate. Marley’s music, being positive, was trying to remove the negative(oppression) from the world.
Marley believed everything about racism was evil. He saw it as a higher form of oppression that needed to be put to a stop. Marley compares racism to a form of war saying, “Until the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned everywhere is war, me say war”(The Future is the Beginning). Marley says there will never be world peace until racism is put down for good. Quotes like this mean a lot to sufferers of racial discrimination and some take upon it the wrong way and believe that resorting through violence is the only true solution to the problem. Marley wished to spread peace but he knew peace would never circulate throughout the whole world until racism was not a factor.
Bob Marley wished to rid the world of hatred and racism with his music; he had strong opinions and songs that fight mental oppression, spread peace, and promote proper moral etiquette. He was a wise and knowledgeable man who realized the flaws within society and the way these flaws may be mended. Marley understood the sources of oppression which helped him to overcome it himself. His goal was to preach through his music and spread peace throughout more than just the corrupt government in his country. He wished to spread peace wherever he was, including the U.S. This is why Bob Marley is an icon of peace and can be connected to pacifism in the US. He understood the battle against racial discrimination and how our country could be unified. This is why Marley chooses peace as his weapon. This is why Marley inspires pacifists with his incredible legacy. This is why Marley brought the world closer to his goal of peace through his music.
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