I Choose the Tougher Path to Freedom: Non-Violence

Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary. – Gandhipeace

I’m conflicted.

More than anything, I simply want to live free. When others build walls against freedom, we must tear them down. But how do we go about doing that? How do we stop those that would lay chains over our wrists and ankles?

Some advocate violence. I’ve seen the calls for “revolution” and armed resistance grow in some circles in the wake of the Bundy Ranch situation. I’ll be honest, watching video of federal agents pulling back made my heart smile. Sometimes we must meet force with force. I can somewhat sympathize with those who think nothing will ever change without armed resistance.

But ultimately, I believe Gandhi was right. We will only find true freedom through non-violent means. Victory won at the barrel of a gun will prove short-lived. If we cannot find a way to change the system without resorting to violent means, we will merely rearrange the pieces on the game board. The rule of force and coercion will remain. When you use violence to change the system, you never really change the system. Violence is the primary component of the system. Violence begets violence.

We need a new rulebook.

The non-aggression principle serves as the cornerstone of my political philosophy. I have two overriding goals for society: freedom and peace. I just can’t fathom that the best way to bring that about includes coercion and war.

I’m not arguing that we don’t stand our ground. I’m not arguing that we should embrace weakness. I am arguing that we should endeavor to stand our ground without resorting to violence if at all possible. Let our force come from our numbers, our passion and our higher principles. Overwhelm evil with good…not more evil.

As Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Let’s be honest: peaceful resistance is harder. Rage is easier than forgiveness. Brute physical force is easier than force of will. Hatred is easier than love. But if our end is a better society, don’t we need to get there through a better means?

As I said, I find myself conflicted. I know situations exist that would lead me to respond with force. But the apparent eagerness of some to provoke violent conflict alarms me. I believe we should take on a nonviolent posture as long as that option exists.

Gandhi expressed the tension I feel perfectly in “The Doctrine of the Sword.”

I advocate training in arms for those who believe in the method of violence. I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should in a cowardly manner become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor. But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment, forgiveness adorns a soldier. But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish, it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature. A mouse hardly forgives cat when it allows itself to be torn to pieces by her. … I do not believe myself to be a helpless creature. Only I want to use India’s and my strength for better purpose. Let me not be misunderstood.

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.

 

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  1. More On the Non-Violent Path to Freedom | Michael Maharrey - April 22, 2014

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