IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Nonviolence (1)

This is another very big subject.   if you check out this article, you will see that while most of us have at least a vague idea of how Gandhi used non-violence in the struggle for Indian Independence and Martin Luther King used it to help gain civil rights in the U.S., there is much more to the idea than just civil disobedience.  There is a philosophical aspect to nonviolence which I find very attractive, and which seems to me to be fundamental to peace:

“Love of the “enemy”, or the realization of the humanity of all people, is a fundamental concept of philosophical nonviolence. The goal of this type of nonviolence is not to defeat the “enemy”, but to win them over and create love and understanding between all.” (from the Wikipedia article linked above).

Here is something from Ghandi which shows how profound and far-reaching the concept and praxis of non-violence was to him:

Character of Nonviolence

Nonviolence is the law of the human race and is infinitely greater than and superior to brute force.

In the last resort it does not avail to those who do not possess a living faith in the God of Love.

Nonviolence affords the fullest protection to one’s self-respect and sense of honour, but not always to possession of land or movable property, though its habitual practice does prove a better bulwark than the possession of armed men to defend them. Nonviolence, in the very nature of things, is of no assistance in the defence of ill-gotten gains and immoral acts.

Individuals or nations who would practice nonviolence must be prepared to sacrifice (nations to last man) their all except honour. It is, therefore, inconsistent with the possession of other people’s countries, i.e., modern imperialism, which is frankly based on force for its defence.

Nonviolence is a power which can be wielded equally by all–children, young men and women or grown-up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When nonviolence is accepted as the law of life, it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts.

It is a profound error to suppose that, whilst the law is good enough for individuals, it is not for masses of mankind.

For the way of nonviolence and truth is sharp as the razor’s edge. Its practice is more than our daily food. Rightly taken, food sustains the body; rightly practised nonviolence sustains the soul. The body food we can only take in measured quantities and at stated intervals; nonviolence, which is the spiritual food, we have to take in continually. There is no such thing as satiation. I have to be conscious every moment that I am pursuing the goal and have to examine myself in terms of that goal. (taken from this site )

Note how Gandhi links non-violence to faith.

Whether or not one is interested in the application of non-violence in the context of civil disobedience, it seems to me the idea–even just the word–is very important.  It is possible to live, create and prosper nonviolently:  violence is not an inherent part of human life, and we can choose to overcome it individually and collectively.

P.S.  There is an International Day for Nonviolence sponsored by the U.N.


January 17, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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