Monday, December 18, 2006

Gandhi's Nonviolence: Can it really work?

From The Harvard Gazette: (via 3Quarks Daily)


The nonviolent principles of Mohandas Gandhi may be the only way to bring peace to the world, Gandhi's granddaughter said. Human rights activist and former South African member of parliament Ela Gandhi told about 160 people gathered in Harvard Law School's Pound Hall that violent victory sows the seeds of its own destruction. It is only through nonviolent resistance and dispute resolution, the focus of Mohandas Gandhi's Satyagraha philosophy, that the world can become a peaceful place, she said.

I've been thinking about Gandhi recently in response to the news of relentless violence in Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya and elsewhere. On the one hand, where ethnic hatred runs so high, one is led to assume the worst for nonviolent resistance: that the nonviolent will just be slaughtered like lambs. On the other hand, the slaughter is happening anyway. How could it possibly be any worse?

I have no idea whether any of the bloody conflicts in the world today could be turned around by a modern-day Gandhi. But we are seeing in Iraq that even the most powerful army in the history of the world is unable to bring peace through sheer military force.


Blogger Metro said...

Possibly a comittment to nonviolence might reduce the perceived threat to the other party?

Once that party sees that they are not threatened, they can turn their energies to more constructive pursuits than, for example, car bombs.

It won't stop everyone. There are surely people who are entirely comitted to political change by gunfire. But the existence of Western-style democracy is proof that once all parties' fangs and fears are pulled, we live together alright.

3:35 PM  

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