Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Mahatma Gandhi and His Myths: Nonviolence in the Real World
We can also dispel the notion that nonviolent action has to be slow. The nonviolent overthrow of Marcos in the Philippines—measured from the assassination of Benigno Aquino—took only three years.

Where does the idea come from, then, that violence is quick and nonviolence is slow? Well, violence feels quicker, because time passes rapidly when you’re dodging bullets. Nonviolent action, on the other hand, requires more patience because the action is less thrilling.

Theodore Roszak once commented on the impatience of some of these critics. He said, “People try nonviolence for a week, and when it ‘doesn’t work,’ they go back to violence, which hasn’t worked for centuries.”

Now, what does Roszak mean, that violence “hasn’t worked for centuries”? Is he ignoring the success of so many violent revolutions? I think Roszak means that violence, even when it succeeds, has major negative side-effects—side-effects that nonviolent action mostly avoids.

I'm posting this as a reminder that the legacy of violence goes far beyond the war. This article gives a great account of the teachings of Gandhi, and their application to the real world. The value of compassion, and suffering, is not a clarion call for war, and competition, but of peace, and cooperation. Ultimately, the final arbiter of this war, besides the lives already lost, will be the diminishment in suffering and fear of the Iraqi people.

For the neocons, it's not about this at all. Forget them. They've got their chalice, their precious strategic victory in the emerging wars for limited world resources, but that won't save our name and integrity as a nation. Assuring our promises to the Iraqi people, their liberation, self-determination, and pursuit of happiness, will.