Palestine and Nonviolence by Arun Gandhi

                                                  Palestine and Nonviolence

                                                            By Arun Gandhigandhi-21-e1306570250124-300x300

Since it is important that we look at nonviolence from all the different perspectives this paper may appear to be dealing with issues that are not directly relevant to the question of Palestinian peace. For this I apologize at the outset with a humble request to give me a little latitude so that I can tie up all the seemingly different issues in a cogent manner. When my grandfather Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (better known as Mahatma Gandhi) proposed nonviolence as the method for India’s struggle for independence from British dominance, it was not only for moral reasons. It was also for practical reasons. In 1857 India witnessed a violent revolution that swept over much of northern India but was quickly crushed by the superior weapons and training of the British army. The status of Indians had not changed since then and Gandhi realized that Indians still had virtually no military training and absolutely no means to acquire new and sophisticated weapons to match the power of the British. Thus, a violent revolution was considered suicidal. Besides, violence not only demands the sacrifice of human life but, in the long run, violence destroys human values and human dignity. Even where violence may appear to have resolved a conflict the solution usually is either temporary or exacts a very heavy cost. Often violence creates more problems than it solves.

Take World War II as an example. The war cost the world almost 60 million human lives, not to speak of the economic cost, the economic devastation, and the after effects of the violence that the world still experiences in ways that we refuse to acknowledge. What we can unhesitatingly acknowledge is that the war succeeded in stopping Nazi expansionism and destroyed Hitler but it did not destroy the hate and prejudice unleashed by Hitler. Understandably, the question that arises in your mind is: How would nonviolence have stopped Hitler? It is a legitimate question but it is one that arises out of the widespread belief that nonviolence is simply another tool for conflict resolution. What I expect to prove today is that nonviolence is not a strategy but a way of life. If the world creates a culture of nonviolence there would be no Hitler, no Saddam Hussein and no dictators to exploit the world. The culture of nonviolence requires that practitioners purge themselves of the negative thoughts and attitudes and replace them with positive thoughts and attitudes such as love, respect, compassion, understanding, acceptance and appreciation. Peace can be created only when we stop exploiting, stop being selfish, greedy and insensitive.