The very mention of the term ‘non-violence’ evokes memories of Mahatma Gandhi and India’s Freedom Struggle. Non-violence is a policy of using peaceful methods, as opposed to forceful methods, to bring about political or social change. Put in another way, it is political opposition without fighting with physical force, shown especially by not obeying laws or orders that are felt to be illegal and unjust.
Gandhiji used this weapon on non-violence effectively and successfully in the Non-cooperation Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement which he launched as part of the country’s Freedom Struggle. The impact of these non-violent methods was so great that the British Empire had no answer to these peaceful methods. So effective were the methods of Gandhiji’s non-violence that the might of the British Empire had to literally struggle to counter Gandhiji’s non-violent agitations and the Mahatma became the unquestioned leader of the country’s freedom movement. Unable to face the non-violent agitation of Gandhiji, the British left the country and India became free on August 15, 1947.
Some people claim that non-violence is a method adopted by the weaker people. Nothing is far from truth. Adopting the weapon on non-violence calls for a lot of courage, both mental and physical. Only those who are mentally and physically strong can withstand the pressure that is released through physical attacks on non-violent agitators. The normal human reaction when one is attacked is to pay back in the same coin. To restrain oneself from normal human reaction, one needs a lot of moral and physical courage.
Even the trade unions in our country resort to non-violent methods like strikes as they are convinced that these peaceful and non-violent methods have greater impact on the managements. That many trade unions are able to use this weapon of non-violence successfully testifies to the effectiveness of this weapon.
Every religion too preaches peace or non-violence as the acceptable way of life. Violence has no place in any of the religions as it can only result in destruction. Nelson Mandela too proved the efficacy of non-violence in his struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Violence cannot be contained through violence. Certainly the proverb which says that a diamond cuts a diamond does not apply as far as violence is concerned. Violence can be checked only when it is countered through non-violence. He who lives by the gun will die by the gun. As pen is mightier than the sword, only non-violence or peaceful methods can keep violence in check.