Non-violence

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” – GANDHI

“World peace through non-violent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Non-violence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.” –Martin Luther King, Jr., December 1964

“Non-violence and cowards go ill together. I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true non-violence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness “GANDHI

The way of peace is the way of truth. Truthfulness is even more important than peacefulness. Indeed, lying is the mother of violence. A truthful man (person) cannot long remain violent. He (she) will perceive in the course of his search that he has no need to be violent and he will further discover that so long as there is the slightest trace of violence in him, he will fail to find the truth he is searching for” – GANDHI (my brackets for inclusivity of language)

Peace is non-violence and non-violence in its deepest form, is peace. For when you feel peaceful within yourself you will never think or feel to harm another. For the feeling of peace is an inner sense of harmony with all people and an ability to see yourself in every-one. Hence all is one, and one for all. There is a wise saying ‘what you do for another you do for the Self’. When you hurt another you experience yourself as one who harms and at a deep level you will not like yourself. The darkness within makes you blame others and tolerate violence in others.

When you choose to take the path of peace you will find that it is an inner journey, that is, you will go into your own heart to make sense of the world. You will question all you have learned and if it doesn’t align with your inner knowing you will put the behaviour or idea aside, like a child discards toys. You start to observe your thoughts, words and actions and how this affects others and in turn, creates your Self.

Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s independence movement (around the turn of the century) is one of many individuals in history who found his life unfolding as a search for truth and love. Others have described this search as a simple removing of weeds (ignorance, weaknesses) from our lives to allow the true Self to emerge naturally.

When I look into the face of a baby I know that evil (or fear) is learned. Babies innately fear loud noises and falling, the rest is learned. When you overcome or reverse evil (fear) with truth you start to live (love). To me I see love in the face of a baby, pure and simple. Therefore, the way of peace is loving, pure and simple. The very essence is love and it can be seen through the acts of non-violence. If all people practice love (non-violence) the world will change immediately.

Gandhi is best known for bringing the practical application of non-violence as a tool to make visible the will of the Indian people, reclaiming a sense of democracy or people power (refer www.gandhiserve.com for further information). His message was his life and the message is applicable to the world today.

Here are some thoughts:

“In my humble opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as a cooperation with good”

“Love is a rare herb that makes a friend even of a sworn enemy and this herb grows out of non-violence”.

“The law of love could be best understood and learned through little children”

“Democracy, disciplined and enlightened, is the finest thing in the world”

The spirit of democracy cannot be established in the midst of terrorism, whether governmental or popular.”

(Source: Gandhi in My Own Words by Richard Attenborough)

Non-violence is not just deciding not to be violent. Non-violence is a way of life and the methods can activate greater democratic participation. Following this overview is a list of practical methods of non-violent action by Gene Sharp, a renowned expert in the field of non-violence.

NON-VIOLENCE can be:

1) a way of life;

2) a way to resist injustice, i.e.. action/struggle against political and social injustices, and;

3) a way to build community. (or a method of action, a way of life, philosophy, building alternatives).

NON-VIOLENCE VISION is:

  • peace;
  • ecological harmony;
  • social justice;
  • economic well-being;
  • political participation.

NON-VIOLENCE PRINCIPALS are:

  • cooperation rather than competition;
  • respect for others;
  • focus on process more rather than task;
  • respect for non-humans, earth and self;
  • human sided organizations, not huge, non-hierarchical;
  • inclusive;
  • sustainability;
  • stopping use of ‘us and them’ syndrome;
  • supporting alternative institutions by using them;
  • determination and persistence, conviction;
  • sharing, honesty, trust, simplicity, strength, accuracy, truth;
  • balance between common good and individual;
  • minimal consumption.

NON-VIOLENCE STRATEGY consists of:

  • consensus decision-making;
  • non-violent conflict resolution;
  • collective process.

STRATEGY WHEEL – framework to:

1) consider what non-violence means for campaign;

2) consider the organization – decision-making processes and structures;

3) consider leadership structure and process for ongoing strategic coordination;

4) prepare for non-violent struggle – research, education, solidarity links;

5) consider communication systems within campaign and with others;

6) gauge an appropriate time frame and stages and sub-campaigns for goals;

7) implement a constructive program for individuals and communities;

8) evaluate and re-evaluate plan;

9) choose tactics in relation to strategic aims;

10) make a list of specific demands according to guidelines;

11) develop an understanding/analysis of the total political picture.

NON-VIOLENT ACTION is:

1) non-violent;

2) truthful;

3) open and not secretive;

4) respects the opponent and third parties;

5) undermines the opponent’s source of power;

6) focuses attention on the conflict between human values and emotions;

7) is designed to involve people;

8) is designed to empower.