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ARTICLES > PEACE, NON-VIOLENCE & CONFLICT RESOLUTION > Application of Non-violence
Application Of Non-violence
By Mahatma Gandhi
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.
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.
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
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 eternal law.
Source: The Mind of Mahatma