The month of October is the month of non-violence. The United Nations overwhelmingly supported a resolution proposed by Hon Anand Sharma Minister in the Government of India, asking that 2 October, the birth date of Mahatma Gandhi, be declared a day of non-violence. While so many nations and so many people want peace and non-violence, the world is still battered by outright and low intensity warfare in regions such as Burma and Tibet, Darfur and Somalia, and many others; too numerous to mention. Here communities are living in terror of attacks and counter attacks. They live from day to day not knowing when a loved one will be snatched away, maimed or killed. In this situation death is an accepted reality.
In many parts of the world people are living in such miserable conditions that they are no longer concerned whether they live or die. Children are growing up in this kind of environment. They grow up psychologically scarred. Violence, murder and mayhem are a natural part of life. The world has to apply its mind as to how these people can be freed from their situational problems.
Let us consider the merits and demerits of violent solutions and non-violent solutions. Violent solutions split people into the victor and the vanquished and as such they remain with the bitterness of war losses and personal tragedies. There are few chances of reconciliation. Because there is this antagonism the victor has to constantly be vigilant lest he be attacked. In a non-violent resolution of conflict, both parties give and take and so both are victors and there is no bitterness and no danger of recurring violence/conflict. Reconciliation is easier in this situation and the parties are able to learn to live happily with each other.
Is this a simplistic approach? Authorities Generals of armies who are sick of the war, accept the validity of this analysis of war and peace. Can they be wrong? Most people who declare war are never in the front line themselves, it is the foot soldiers who are in the front line. Most of these soldiers want an end to wars.
An argument is used that some people are so cruel that only violence can change them. Yet a person like Slobodan Milosevic was defeated by non-violent means. So cruelty of the dictator is not an indicator of whether violence is the only means.
A non-violent approach depends on numbers and unanimity. Mass action is the most effective means of engaging oppressors. Massive support for the struggle is a prerequisite of successful non-violent action. Thus one has to mobilise and get the support of the masses before engaging in non-violent action. This then leads to a lasting solution as the majority of the people are supportive. But violent action dose not depend on mass mobilisation and hence they may have the backing of a few well armed people and may not have mass acceptance as a result the solution is just a temporary one and not a lasting one.
So as we dedicate ourselves to nonviolence it would be good to consider how we can transform one other person who does not believe in non-violence to accepting non-violence into his/her life. If each of us makes this contribution to society we can create a path to a peaceful world.