IF ONE does not practice non-violence in one's
personal relations with others, and hopes to use it in bigger affairs, one is
vastly mistaken. Non-violence like charity must begin at home.
But if it is necessary for the individual to be
trained in non-violence, it is even more necessary for the nation to be trained
likewise. One cannot be non-violent in one's own circle and violent outside it.
Or else, one is not truly non-violent even in one's own circle; often the
non-violence is only in appearance. It is only when you meet with resistance, as
for instance, when a thief or a murderer appears, that your non-violence is put
on its trail. You either try or should try to oppose the thief with his own
weapons, or you try to disarm him by love. Living among decent people, your
conduct may not be described as a non-violent.
Mutual forbearance is non-violence. Immediately,
therefore, you get the conviction that non-violence is the law of life, you have
to practice it towards those who act violently towards you, and the law must
apply to nations as individuals. Training no doubt is necessary. And beginnings
are always small. But if the conviction is there, the rest will follow.
Universality of Non-violence
Non-violence to be a creed has to be all-pervasive. I cannot be
non-violent about one activity of mine and violent about others.
It is a blasphemy to say that non-violence can
only be practiced by individuals and never by nations which are composed of individuals.
In my opinion, non-violence is not passivity in
any shape or form. Non-violence, as I understand it, is the most active force in
the world...Non-violence is the supreme law. During my half a century of
experience, I have not yet come across a situation when I had to say that I was
helpless, that I had no remedy in terms of non-violence.
Cultivation of Non-violence
I am an irrepressible optimist. My optimism rests on my belief in the
infinite possibilities of the individual to develop non-violence. The more you
develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes till it over-whelms
your surroundings and by and by might over sweep the world.
I have known from early youth that non-violence is
not a cloistered virtue to be practiced by the individual for his peace and
final salvation, but it is a rule of conduct for society if it is to live
consistently with human dignity and make progress towards the attainment of
peace for which it has been yearning for ages past.
To practice non-violence in mundane matters is to
know its true value. It is to bring heaven upon earth. There is no such thing as
the other world. All works are one. There is no 'here' and no 'there'. As Jeans
has demonstrated, the whole universe including the most distant stars, invisible
even through the most powerful telescope in the world, is compressed in an atom.
I hold it, therefore, to be wrong to limit the use
of non-violence to cave-dwellers and for acquiring merit for a favoured position
in the other world. All virtue ceases to have use if it serves no purpose in
every walk of life.
Use on Mass Scale
Unfortunately for us, we are strangers to the non-violence of the
brave on a mass scale. Some even doubt the possibility of the exercise of
non-violence by groups, much less by masses of people. They restrict its
exercise to exceptional individuals. Only, mankind can have no use of it if it
is always reserved only for individuals.
I have been practicing with scientific precision non-violence and its
possibilities for an unbroken period of over fifty years. I have applied it in
every walk of life, domestic, institutional, economic and political. I know of
no single case in which it has failed. Where it has seemed sometimes to have
failed, I have ascribed it to my imperfections. I claim no perfection for
myself. But I do claim to be a passionate seeker after Truth, which is but
another name for God. In the course of that search, the discovery of
non-violence came to me. Its spread is my life mission. I have no interest in
living except for the prosecution of that mission.
There is no hope for the aching world except
through the narrow and straight path of non-violence. Millions like me may fail
to prove the truth in their own lives, that would be their failure, never of the
Source: The Mind of Mahatma