Friday, January 16, 2009

Nonviolence for a better world

We are living in perilous times. TV news speaks of the ominous dangers the world is facing. Soldiers and civilians alike are being killed every day in Afghanistan, Iraq, Congo and Sudan. Still, there's military buildup in other parts of the globe and fear of more confrontations. In the midst of all these problems, what is the attitude of the average person? What should be our attitude?

When I spoke to a group of teachers and guardians just after 9-11, I referred to the wonderful song "Imagine," and stated that we all should put pressure on our leaders to adopt the philosophy of nonviolence in resolving conflicts. "Isn't that a form of escapism?" a man stood up and asked.

"Maybe, yes!" I replied. "And before violence spreads all over this world and destroys humanity, we're all going to be looking for the 'exit' signs to escape."

"Imagine all the people, living life in peace." These words of hope were penned by John Lennon more than three decades ago, and I believe they are what we presently need to build a better world. It is since many people have largely ceased to have hope for the future that they have become violent and ineffective in life. A continual looking forward to a nonviolent world is not a form of escapism, but an important human virtue.

Great leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., who preached nonviolence, had hope. Gandhi was a "warrior," but he never resorted to weapons to fight the battle for truth. The indignation he felt toward the oppressive British colonialists was not just mere anger; it was a wrath of love, faith and hope which emanated from the bottom of his heart and soul. That's why he resorted to his wisdom rather than to machine guns to achieve his goal.
A former U.S. soldier who was in the Gulf War once said that a CNN correspondent asked him in the middle of the desert in Kuwait; "If I were God and could give you anything you wanted, what would you ask?"

"Gimme a nonviolent and peaceful tomorrow with my wife and children," he replied. "Aim at nonviolence, and you will get peace and freedom; aim at war and you will get neither."

In history, many soldiers destroyed others' homes, while desiring peace for their own homes. Peace has been a temporary relief, little more than an intermission between battles entailing much sacrifice. The successive civilizations of the past have been different arrangements of violent human institutions; but there has never been a lasting, peaceful social order. It is impossible to build a peaceful world on the cracked foundation of violent human nature. The cycle of war and peace — can this karma of humanity be overcome without the spirit of nonviolence?

Joel's 135 tips to achieve Peace:

By Joel Assogba Shukan ST: JANUARY 16, 2009 (Published in Japan Times ST)