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  • Writer's pictureAngelo Corbelli

The Lethal Cost of Seeking Peace

When we pause to reflect on the legacies of some of the most impactful leaders in history —visionary souls who dared to dream of a different world and who advocated for profound cultural shifts—it's hard not to notice a startling pattern. These were individuals who not only possessed the courage to challenge the entrenched norms of their times but also offered pathways to enlightenment, seeking to elevate our collective consciousness about pressing social injustices. Yet, more often than not, these champions of change faced dire consequences for their bravery. Whether through the cold bars of a prison cell or death, many of these voices were silenced, forcefully removed from the stage of the world they sought to transform.


Why do it in the first place

At the heart of every movement for social, political, or cultural reform lies a profound moment of awakening—a realization to unveil the realities of injustice and inequality. Often born from personal experience or a deep empathy for the suffering of others, those advocate for a change come across a realization that the status quo is not just unacceptable but fundamentally changeable, and it's this understanding that has propelled countless leaders to step forward in the name of progress.

These advocates for change, from diverse backgrounds and cultures, share a common thread: an enlightenment that reveals the depth of societal illusions. They see how populations are misled, whether through governmental deceit, societal biases, or systemic injustices. This awareness is not a fleeting thought but a profound insight that takes root in their consciousness, urging them to dedicate their lives to enlightening others and rectifying these wrongs. Take, for instance, Martin Luther King Jr.

His advocacy was not merely a response to the injustices he witnessed; it was a deep-seated need to address the fundamental question of why African Americans, born on the same soil as their white counterparts and sharing the same national heritage, were denied the rights and freedoms promised to all. King's vision was driven by the belief in the inherent equality of all people, a belief so strong that he was willing to face immense opposition and personal risk to see it realized.

Why did King, and leaders like him, push so hard against the towering waves of resistance?

Perhaps it was a recognition of the urgency of their cause, a knowledge that if they did not act, the moment for change might pass by unseized. Or maybe it was a deeper understanding that their time to make a difference was finite, and the cost of silence far outweighed the dangers of speaking out.

The issue it is causing

In every era, behind the grand narratives of history, there are those who hold the strings of power, shaping the course of societies with their decisions and influence. The mechanisms of control have evolved, but the underlying principle remains remarkably consistent: to govern effectively, one must wield influence over the populace. This truth spans from the monarchies of old kingdoms to the complex governmental structures of the modern world. Yet, the most effective tool in maintaining this control has often been the suppression of knowledge and the promotion of a certain degree of societal blindness.

This is where the advocates for change, with their calls for enlightenment and justice, become inconvenient thorns in the side of those who seek to maintain the status quo. When individuals like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi step onto the world stage, they don't just speak to the oppressed or marginalized; they hold up a mirror to society, revealing the inequities and injustices woven into the fabric of everyday life. This unveiling of truth is inherently destabilizing to those in power. Governments and leaders, who often predicate their authority on the ignorance of their citizens, find themselves at a crossroads when faced with such advocates. The enlightenment offered by these leaders encourages people to think independently, to question the narratives they've been fed, and to challenge the very foundations of power and control.

This is seen not merely as an ideological threat but as a direct challenge to their authority and, perhaps more critically, to their ability to govern unchallenged. The fear among the powerful is not just of a loss of control but of the potential for a reimagining of society itself. When people begin to see beyond the veils of manipulation and control, they start to envision alternatives, to dream of a world where power is distributed more equitably, and justice is not just an ideal but a reality. This is the transformative potential that leaders fear—a potential that can upend centuries of carefully curated power dynamics. Thus, the advocates for change are met with resistance, not because their visions are unattainable or their ideals flawed, but because they threaten to dismantle the very pillars upon which the authority of the powerful is built. It is a battle not just of politics or ideology but of consciousness itself, where the prize is the very soul of society.


The following individuals, among many others, paid the ultimate price for their commitment to challenging injustices and advocating for fundamental changes in their societies.

  1. Socrates (469-399 BC) - The ancient Greek philosopher, known for his contributions to ethics and epistemology, was sentenced to death by poison for corrupting the youth of Athens and impiety, essentially challenging the prevailing moral and social norms of his time.

  2. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) - A French heroine and saint of the Roman Catholic Church, she was burned at the stake for heresy after leading France to victory in several pivotal battles during the Hundred Years' War, challenging the English occupation of France.

  3. Thomas More (1478-1535) - An English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman, and noted Renaissance humanist, More was executed for treason for refusing to acknowledge King Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England, which represented a profound challenge to the authority of the monarchy over religious matters.

  4. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) - A leader of India's non-violent independence movement against British rule, advocating for civil rights and freedom across the world, Gandhi was assassinated for his efforts to achieve peace and equality through nonviolent means.

  5. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) - An American Baptist minister and activist, King became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement, advocating for nonviolent resistance to achieve civil and human rights. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

  6. Steve Biko (1946-1977) - A South African anti-apartheid activist, Biko founded the Black Consciousness Movement, which sought to mobilize and empower the black population. He died in police custody, with his death causing outrage and gaining international attention.

  7. Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961) - The first Prime Minister of independent Congo, Lumumba's administration faced intense opposition from Western powers, leading to his arrest and assassination, due to his views on nationalization and African nationalism.

  8. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. (1932-1983) - A prominent Philippine opposition leader against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Aquino was assassinated upon returning from exile, sparking events that eventually led to the 1986 People Power Revolution.

  9. Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1995) - A Nigerian writer, television producer, and environmental activist, Saro-Wiwa led a nonviolent campaign against the environmental degradation of the land and waters of Ogoniland by the operations of multinational oil companies, notably Shell. He was executed by the Nigerian military government.

  10. Jamal Khashoggi (1958-2018) - A Saudi Arabian journalist, author, and a former general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel, Khashoggi was assassinated at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, by agents of the Saudi government, reportedly for his criticism of the Saudi leadership.

Change ?

As we come to a conclusion a profound irony emerges : those who have pursued the path of peace and societal transformation are often met with starkly violent opposition. This pattern, recurring through history, underscores a deep-seated paradox within the human condition—the forces of power and control are frequently threatened by the very notions of equality, liberty, and fraternity that form the bedrock of peaceful societies.

This enduring conflict between the quest for justice and the mechanisms of power reveals much about the nature of leadership and governance. It suggests that true societal progress poses a fundamental challenge to structures built on dominance and exclusion. The cost of advocating for peace, as evidenced by the sacrifices of those like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, and others, is an example of the immense courage required to confront these systems.

In reflecting upon the lives of these remarkable individuals, how can we, in our daily lives, contribute to the realization of their visions? How can we make an impact for the bettering of human society? The answer is clear, do you get it?


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Welcome to the blog, Angelo Corbelli is a Mechanical Engineering student at FIU with a passion for the aerospace industry as well as health and fitness.

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