Gene Sharp died earlier this month. Although his name means nothing to most readers, his ideas, expressed in over 30 books, may have had more impact globally than any one person who lived in his lifetime of 90 years. It is his ideas that were used in the Arab Spring and Occupy movements and regime changes in Myanmar, Egypt and the Baltics; indeed, he is more well-known abroad than here.

In 1973, he published the pamphlet “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” in which he listed 198 nonviolent strategies to employ when resisting dictatorial governments and institutions. Inspired at an early age by Gandhi and later by Martin Luther King Jr., among others, he came to ardently believe that the use of violence and weaponry in an effort to undermine the “pillars of power” only results in more of the same.

What has worked throughout the ages is what he called the “stubborn and cussed” behaviors of individuals and small working groups that disrupt systems and effect lasting change. Today, more than ever and close to home, we are in need of small, manageable, nonviolent local action.

If you want to know more about Gene Sharp and his work, read the Feb. 2 New York Times obituary and the Feb. 6 opinion piece that followed.

Jean Sheridan