Taiaiake Alfred tackles the issues of Aboriginal repression and the tactics for opposing Colonial rule in “The Ethics of Courage.” With this, and his other works, he really strives to strengthen Aboriginal peoples’ (Onkwehonwe) sense of who they are and urges them to speak up and to take a stand for their rights and beliefs. It’s evident early on that this is a topic close to his heart and he never stymies from driving his position home. Action is required to implement change, but not by any means necessary; this is something that Alfred makes stridently clear on many occasions. Violence has been applied by both sides in the past, and it will continue to be used in the future; he doesn’t present this as desirable, but simple fact. Defensive measures can be beneficial for survival in the present, but it doesn’t provide any real assistance for the future, so it’s being proactive today that Alfred encourages.
Some might think that Alfred condones violence if used to buoy his own cause, but he’s simply aware that it’s not only plausible but probable and therefore valuable to recognize as such. Violence is ingrained in our Western society with warfare and violence sold as glorious and honourable, and it’s often the pacifist mentality that is looked down upon as cowardly and weak. He states that the Government will always follow this path, and so describes the Onkwehonwe defending themselves. But as Alfred points out, non-violence is just as much a strategic choice as any other, and historically it actually garners “widespread and effective” results “against all types of repressive regimes (52)”. An objective is necessary for any action especially one of this magnitude, and Alfred details a broad and varied framework.
He is pragmatic in his vision and really gives you a comprehensive look into the flawed, and often prejudiced, doctrines that govern this New Continent. There are many facets to his declaration, but ultimately it always returns to one idea: a community, restored and unified, is a resilient one and that needs to be the endgame.
*Too short and not fully expanded on, but this is the original copy that I had a month ago.