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每週論壇

眾議園
(本版園地 歡迎來稿 文責自負 不設稿酬)

追求公義時使用暴力,合理嗎?
——從美國經驗到香港現況

每當世界各地出現社會議題或抗爭行動,質疑我們現有的生活方式和價值判斷時,人們總會討論:追求公義時使用暴力,合理嗎?

最近這個討論再被炒熱,原因是黑人布萊克(Jacob Blake)被美國警方槍殺,引發人們以暴力回應的連串事件。這亦因多個世代以來,系統性的種族不公義的政治議題得不到處理,甚至不被正視。似乎這頭房間裡的大象不止顯而易見,更獲得妥善餵飼。在更廣義的層面,人會質疑暴力在追求公義的角色:在追求公義時,暴力可否成為合理的工具——尤其是當訴求一直遭到拒絕或漠視之時?

數個月前開始,在美國明尼蘇達州的明尼阿波利斯市(Minneapolis)和其他地方,出現大規模的暴亂。暴亂似乎主要是因群眾憤怒與挫敗感引起,而這些感受則源於人們世代以來追求種族公義卻不獲回應所致。有人認為這些行為是合理的回應,也有人譴責這些行為,認為無論情況如何,在道德上始終不能接受。有趣的是,因為今次的議題有關種族不平等,討論雙方都會引用在這方面備受肯定的權威:馬丁路德金博士(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)。

譴責示威期間使用暴力和騷亂的人,會引述他說:「我會永續地認為,暴亂是破壞社會和自招失敗的。」想合理化暴亂是正當的一方,則會引述他說:「暴亂是無人傾聽者的語言。」令人疑惑的是,這兩句「金句」,皆出自馬丁路德金博士在一九六七年於史丹福大學發表的演說。

明尼蘇達州伯特利大學(Bethel University, Minnesota)教授撒拉謝迪(Sara Shady),曾仔細查考這次演說的內容,並提出一些重要觀察。首先,雖然馬丁路德金博士是知名的非暴力倡議者,但他的看法卻比一般所理解的更為複雜。第二,基督徒傾向將他發起的和平示威,想像得太過理想,忽略他會不時挑戰不公義的法律,藉著觸犯法例,激發暴力回應——對象通常都是他自己和他的支持者。

譴責暴亂,也要譴責不公義

馬丁路德金博士的評語,出自他的演說〈另一個美國〉。他在演說中激昂地表示,兩個南轅北轍的美國並肩存在,但彼此沒有連結、從不相識、未曾復和。他在這次演說中,肯定黑人民權運動的努力,能迫使人們關注和確認這個議題。他坦白分享在建立嶄新和種族團結的美國這願景期間所面對過的掙扎。他也承認在美國部份地方出現的暴力,會威脅和破壞他非暴力行動帶來的成果。不過即或如此,有些派別仍正面肯定暴力示威的果效。以下是他說法的脈絡:

「正如我一直認為,並會永續地認為,暴亂是破壞社會和自招失敗的。我仍然深信,非暴力是受壓迫者在爭取自由和公義時最有力的武器。我意識到,暴力只會製造更多社會問題,比它們能解決的問題更多。從現實的角度說,黑人甚至想到在美國發動一場暴力革命是不切實際的。因此我會繼續譴責暴亂,並繼續告訴我的兄弟姊妹,暴力不是出路。我也會繼續肯定,一定有其他方法的。

「但與此同時,我也必須強烈譴責有些狀況導致人們覺得自己除參與暴力行為外別無他法,正如我譴責暴亂一樣。我認為美國人必須看見,暴亂不是憑空出現的,我們必須強烈譴責社會持續出現的一些狀況,就如我們譴責暴亂一樣。

「歸根究柢,暴亂是無人傾聽者的語言。美國人聽不到的是甚麼?就是聽不到貧窮黑人的窘境,在過去幾年原來每況愈下;聽不到自由和公義的承諾,原來未有落實;也聽不到白人社會的大多數人,原來關心社會安寧和現狀,多於關心公義、平等和人性。這樣從現實意義來說,我們國家的暴亂之夏,是由國家的延遲寒冬造成。只要美國繼續緩辦公義,我們身處的地方就會不斷出現暴力和騷亂,不會休止。」

從這個脈絡可以頗清楚看到,雖然馬丁路德金博士相信「非暴力是受壓迫者在爭取自由和公義時最有力的武器」,但他也明白到「有些狀況在我們的社會持續出現,要被強烈譴責,就如我們譴責暴亂一樣」。

這處提供了非常重要卻不時被人忽略的原則,就是:當暴力在躁動不安的社會處境出現,手握權力的人在譴責暴力時,必須同時確認和同樣譴責令暴力出現的不公義。否則,譴責暴力只會成為空洞的指控,欠缺真誠,也未能真正了解問題所在。

從馬丁路德金的原則看香港

這個原則以幾方面出現在去年席捲香港的示威和動盪中,沿著類似馬丁路德金博士時代的模式發展。正如黑人民權運動一樣,香港的抗爭行動,起初是非暴力的公眾示威,原因是由於政府未有撤回《逃犯條例》修訂草案。

可是,這些抗爭背後的原因,是由於《基本法》下的普選進展令人不滿,市民已累積了多年不忿。這個爭持日久的政治議題,在欠缺有意義的政治代表下,造成市民的不滿和怨憤——當市民的聲音被再次無視,和平抗爭終於發展成暴力抗爭。

香港政府回應這些暴力時,一直拒絕與抗爭者對話,或因為抗爭者以暴力表達訴求,而拒絕讓步。政府甚至公開貶抑抗爭者的暴力為不合法,批評他們的行為缺乏道德上的正當性。與此同時,政府亦拒絕開展高層次的獨立調查,因為這樣的調查可能會揭示導致多次抗爭的核心,就是不公義的議題。如果政府能依照馬丁路德金博士的原則行事並展開調查,或有可能避免香港出現我們現正身處的極端情況,反而可以停止暴力升級,也朝向實際可行的讓步邁進。

第二方面,這個原則與香港教會有關。馬丁路德金博士為黑人爭取公民權利的動力,源自他的基督教信仰。無論是整個運動還是非暴力的運用,都洋溢著基督教氣息,以致基督徒會慶祝他的成功,並為他的非暴力方式鼓掌。不過,教會必須明白,他們不能因為聖經譴責暴力,而合理化自己對抗爭者袖手旁觀的態度。教會亦必須明白他們有同等責任,強烈反對造成暴力的不公義。當教會表態反對暴力,卻沒有正視聖經有關正義(righteousness)與公義(justice)的教導時,就有機會惹來偽善的指控。

非暴力成「武器」突顯不公

我們也應該注意到,馬丁路德金博士理解的非暴力,不止是被動的。他形容非暴力為「武器」,因為他在爭取黑人群體的公民權利期間,主動使用非暴力。他爭取公義,而他選用的「武器」是非暴力,能非常有效地達到他的目的。他之所以會選擇非暴力這個「武器」,不止是因為它能有效取勝,而是因為它能展示黑人群體遭受白人壓迫者在社會和政治方面的侮辱。這些故事和畫面中的黑人抗爭者,因為為自己發聲表態,而被白人警察拘留。

不過,這個「武器」最重要的功用,是將抗爭者的和平與手無寸鐵,與警方的暴力與武器裝備形成對比。這樣的對比,為抗爭者的努力帶來道德優勢和不證自明的正義觀感。馬丁路德金博士對準深化歧視的法律,故意觸犯它們,以突顯這些法律對黑人群體造成的不公義。

每個抗爭運動,都需要決定所使用的「武器」和如何有效運用。如果選擇暴力,就要明白抗爭運動將會面對暴力和法律制裁,以致抗爭可能會失去原本得到的道德優勢,即使引起運動的初心可能是正義的。在香港的處境,這個因素為抗爭運動帶來負面觀感。即使多數市民相信運動的起因是正義的,可惜使用暴力的這個弱點,容許政府對運動在道德和法律上的失誤借題發揮,將之化成自己的優勢。如果抗爭運動希望成功,就要重新評估它所使用的「武器」,並如馬丁路德金博士一樣,對準期望糾正的不公狀況,選擇更為適切的「武器」,並以可得到大量民眾支持的方法,妥善運用。

今年九月,雖然藉投票重新得到認可的機會將延遲一年出現,但卻是個更理想的「武器」,可以直接說明要糾正的不公狀況,就是欠缺民主的代表。不過,如果它的目的只是為立法機關製造破壞和混亂,則會失去它的道德優勢和支持。在立法會內善用立法程序,推動民主改革,並放下暴力的武器,會更能發揮道德潛質和政治優勢。

教會須為公義和真理發聲

正如馬丁路德金博士一樣,香港教會也必須決定要使用甚麼「武器」,以回應現時充滿恐懼和不確定性的浪潮,也要思考如何在未來的日子成為正面的影響。幸好,我們不需像馬丁路德金博士那樣,在暴力和公義之間選擇。建制教會的角色未必會見諸街頭、票箱或立法會,卻同時擁有有力的「武器」——她的聲音和信息。

教會有其重要的角色,為公義和真理發聲,並會透過獨特的聖經視野,幫助廣大市民了解,上主為甚麼會如此關懷這些議題。這些都是有力的武器,因為它們直接對抗模糊真理以拒絕公義的權宜之舉。不過,教會亦有需要重新檢視馬丁路德金博士一心一意完成手上任務的方法,還有他忠於原則的決心。他的原則不是運動操作的要求,而是非常有力的「武器」,以達成他的目標。教會必須建立有決心和專注的策略,有效運用她的「武器」,在往後的日子繼續支持香港人。

教會所服事的掌權者,地位比地上的政權更高;祂有權能使人類的策略變得超越限制,能在絕望之處帶來盼望,在黑暗之時帶來真理。問題是,教會會否迎向這個挑戰,並運用上主所賜的「武器」,為公義和真理表態?時間將會證明一切。

(副題及分題為編者所加)


英文原文:

On violence and justice

There has been a long running debate in societies around the world which arises whenever there are issues or protests that question the way we have been living and the assumptions we have placed on our values. It is prompted again with the shooting of Jacob Blake in the US and the violent responses that followed and is as part of the ongoing political issue surrounding systemic racial injustice that have resulted from generations of failure to deal with it or even acknowledge it. It seems like the elephant in the room was not only in plain view but being well fed and watered.

In a more generalised context it has raised questions around the issue of violence in the pursuit of justice. The question is this: Can violence ever be justified as a legitimate tool in the quest for justice particularly when that quest is denied or goes unanswered. In the US the large scale rioting that first occurred in Minneapolis some months ago and in many other places seems largely to have occurred as a reaction of anger and frustration to the generations of unanswered injustice on this issue. Some have justified it as a valid response, while others condemned it as morally unacceptable whatever the circumstances. The interesting thing is that because it took place over the issue of racial inequality both sides of the debate chose to draw upon the support of  a highly recognised authority on such matters, Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. himself.

Those who wanted to condemn violence and rioting during protests quoted him as saying ‘I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating’ while those on the other side who wished to justify rioting quoted him as saying ’a riot is the language of the unheard’   .

The curious thing is that both of these ‘sound bites’ were taken from the same speech made by Dr King at Stanford University in 1967. This speech has been examined in some detail by Professor Sara Shady at Bethel University in Minnesota and she makes some salient observations. Firstly that although Dr King was a well-known advocate of non-violence his views were rather more complex than many might appreciate, and secondly that Christians have tended to over-idealise his peaceful protests not appreciating that they often challenged unjust laws by breaking them so provoking a violent response - usually towards him and his supporters.

The context of Dr King’s comments was his speech ‘The other America’ in which he passionately spoke about the two vastly different Americas that existed together. side by side, disconnected, unrecognised and unreconciled. It was a speech in which he evaluated the progress of the Civil Rights Movement’s efforts to highlight the issue and press for recognition. He spoke very frankly about the struggles that lay ahead to achieve his vision of a new racially united America. He also acknowledged that violence had occurred in some areas of America which threatened to mar the success that his non-violent movement had already achieved. Nevertheless some factions were speaking positively about the effectiveness of violent protest.  This is the larger context of what he said:

‘Let me say as I've always said, and I will always continue to say, that riots are socially destructive and self-defeating. I'm still convinced that nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice. I feel that violence will only create more social problems than they will solve. That in a real sense it is impracticable for the Negro to even think of mounting a violent revolution in the United States. So I will continue to condemn riots, and continue to say to my brothers and sisters that this is not the way. And continue to affirm that there is another way.

But at the same time, it is as necessary for me to be as vigorous in condemning the conditions which cause persons to feel that they must engage in riotous activities as it is for me to condemn riots. I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nation's winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again.’

It is quite clear from this context that although Dr King believed that  ‘nonviolence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and justice he also understood that ‘certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots’.  This provides a very important principle to consider which is often ignored.  It is this: that when violence occurs in the context of social unrest it’s condemnation by those in authority must also be accompanied by a recognition and equal condemnation of the injustices that have caused it. Otherwise it just becomes a hollow indictment that lacks authenticity and real understanding of the issue.

This principle plays out in several ways in the context of the protests and unrest that engulfed Hong Kong last year , and which followed a similar pattern to those in Dr King’s era. Like the US Civil Right’s movement Hong Kong’s  protests started off as non-violent public demonstrations at the government’s lack of response over the extradition bill. However these brought to a head the culmination of years of frustration with unsatisfactory progress towards universal suffrage under the Basic Law. This long running political issue created discontent and resentment at the lack of meaningful political representation and eventually spilled over into violent protest when the voice of the people was again ignored.

In their response to this violence the Hong Kong government consistently refused to dialogue or make concessions on the basis that the demands were made in the context of violence. In fact more than that, it openly denigrated violence on the part of the protesters not only as being illegal but also as lacking moral legitimacy. However at the same time it refused to instigate a high level independent investigation that might have revealed the issues of injustice which lay at the heart of the protests. If the government had followed Dr King’s principle and conducted such an enquiry Hong Kong might have avoided the extreme measures we find ourselves in now, and instead have achieved a de-escalation of violence, and some progress towards a workable compromise.

A second way that this principle plays out is in relation to the church in Hong Kong. Dr King’s motivation for pursuing civil rights for the black population was based on his christian beliefs. His whole campaign and use of non-violence was overtly christian such that Christians have subsequently celebrated his success and applauded his non-violent approach. However the church must also understand that it cannot use this as a justification for having stood aside from the protests on the grounds that the bible condemns violence. It must also understand that it has an equal duty to speak out strongly against the injustices that are its source. When it speaks against violence  without due regard to biblical teaching on righteousness and justice it risks the charge of hypocrisy.

It should be noted also that Dr King’s view of non-violence was not a passive one. He described it as a ‘weapon’ because he used it actively in his struggle to achieve civil rights for the black community. He was fighting for justice and his ‘weapon’ of choice was non-violence and he used it very effectively to achieve his purpose.

However it was not just chosen as an effective ‘weapon’ to win a battle but it was chosen as a ‘weapon’ that would also demonstrate visually the plight of black social and political humiliation at the hands of white oppression. The stories and pictures of black protesters being beaten and thrown into jail by white policemen spoke their own truth.

But the most important feature of his ‘weapon’ was the contrast it achieved between the  actions of the defenseless and peaceful protesters interacting with violent and armed policemen. It achieved both a moral advantage and a self-evident rightness for their cause.  Dr King targeted laws that were enforcing discrimination and then deliberately broke them as a way of highlighting the injustice that those laws caused and which were causing his community to suffer. 

Every protest movement must decide what ‘weapons’ it will use and how to use them effectively. If it chooses to use violence then it must understand that it will be met with violence and the full force of the law so that any moral advantage that it might have achieved will be lost despite the rightness of its cause. In Hong Kong this very factor played out negatively for the protest movement. Even though the rightness of the cause was still maintained by a large portion of the population this weakness allowed the government to exploit the moral and legal failure to its advantage. If the protest movement is to succeed in its bid for reform it must re-evaluate its ‘weapons’ more critically and like Dr King choose those that target more directly the injustice it wishes to redress and use them in a way that will regain large scale public support.

While opportunity to regain wider recognition at the ballot box this September has been delayed for a year, it is a much better ‘weapon’ to use since it strikes more directly at the injustice it seeks to redress which is lack of democratic representation.  However if its aim is merely to cause disruption and chaos to the legislative machinery then it will loose its moral advantage and support once again. Far better to exploit its potential moral and political advantage by pressing for democratic reform using the legislative process itself and abandon its weapon of violence altogether.  

Like Dr King, the church of Hong Kong must also decide what ’weapons’ to use to counter this current wave of fear and uncertainty which is unnerving the population and how to be a positive influence in the years to come. But fortunately unlike Dr King it does not have to chose between violence and justice. While the role of the institutional church may not be on the streets, or in the ballot box, or at Legco it nevertheless has a powerful ‘weapon' - its voice and its message. It has an important role to speak up for justice and truth, and to do so through a distinctively biblical lens, helping the wider public understand why God cares so much about these issues. These are powerful weapons because they directly counteract the obfuscation of truth under power and the refusal of justice for expediency. However the church does need to look afresh at Dr King’s single-minded approach to the task he had in hand and his determination to be faithful to his principles in achieving it. They were not a pre-conditional requirement of another modus operandi but the very powerful ‘weapon’ of achieving his purpose. The church must also develop a determined and focused strategy for using its ‘weapons’ effectively in supporting the people of Hong Kong in the coming years.

Because the church is serving a higher power than its political masters it has an authority that transcends human strategies; that can bring hope in times of despair, and truth in times of darkness. The question is: will the church rise to the challenge, use the ‘weapons’ God has given it and speak up for justice and truth? Only time will tell.

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