Although pacifistic traditions are often lumped in with concepts of non-violence, they are distinct entities and should not be muddled up. That said, of course, there are many points where the two concepts crossover into one another. After all, a pacifist is likely to be a non-violent person if they are committed to the idea of a more peaceful and less conflicted world. Nevertheless, even some pacifists accept that they are only trying their best to act in a non-violent manner and that they still have the capacity for violence – it is merely a capacity that they are trying to never use.
For some, the whole idea of being non-violent is based on a more profound truth about humanity which, when seen from a spiritual standpoint, is essentially peaceful and peace-loving. It is only with our human structures and societies that we are violent. To Christians, for example, this is part of being sinful since man was expelled from the Garden of Eden. Christ taught that being non-violent even in the face of aggression was the right thing to do. Much later, his ideas influenced the likes of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, who also used spiritual strength to help them resist the human urge towards violence. More widely, however, both of these famous exponents of non-violent struggles chose to avoid violent confrontations because they felt it helped their cause. Today, protestors continue to use many of the same non-violent methods to further the cause of female safety, racial equality
and human rights
, to name just three examples.