NONVIOLENCE IS MAKING HISTORY
Nonviolence is in our news these days. Let us begin by recalling the words of the great tactician of nonviolence, Martin Luther King, speaking of Mahatma Gandhi: "nonviolent resistance is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight… nonviolent resistance … is not a method of stagnant passivity… For while the nonviolent resister is passive in the sense that he is not physically aggressive toward his opponent, his mind and his emotions are always active, constantly seeking to persuade his opponent that he is wrong. The method is passive physically but strongly active spiritually. It is not passive non-resistance to evil, it is active nonviolent resistance to evil."
Perhaps the most active practitioner of this approach today is the Nonviolent Peaceforce. They have recently been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their teams "on the ground" in the various "hotspots" around the globe. In addition, they are actively trying to convince the United Nations and various governments to adopt nonviolence as a paradigm shift: "One of the most dramatic shifts will have taken place when everyone realizes that, the assumption that an armed actor will not yield to anything except a weapon has been proven to be untrue."
All of this is part of the long-term strategy announced recently by Nonviolent Peaceforce: "We protect civilians in violent conflicts through unarmed strategies. We build peace side by side with local communities. We advocate for the wider adoption of these approaches to safeguard human lives and dignity."
Another major practitioner of nonviolence is the Mennonite Central Committee, which recently publicized initiatives in seven countries on four continents.
Meanwhile, Pax Christi and other activists recently convened a meeting at the Vatican to enlist the Catholic Church in the approach of nonviolence, requesting that the church reverse its support for "just wars."
In celebrating Earth Day this month, the Campaign Nonviolence reminds us that to protect our planet we need to live "nonviolently" with such practices as sustainability, renewable energy, lowering meat consumption, and supporting local food.
These initiatives may not be featured in the headlines of the commercial media, where violence is considered more newsworthy, but in the long run the initiatives for nonviolence are making history, while violence is only impeding it.