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110. Why Armies ?

Two Indonesian friends, who dropped in to see Gandhiji, asked how it was possible for them to resist European aggression except by aggression. Europe had always believed in force and the Indonesian friends did not see how any country could meet it except by force.

Gandhiji gently remonstrated by saying that such a question betrayed complete ignorance of non-violence. "Let me put you a counter-question," he said. "Supposing the armed and combined might of Britain, America and Russia wished to enslave you, what amount of violence would you need to counter it? I suggest that you would not violently stand up to it unless, perhaps, you had the backing of the whole of Asia and even then you might lose if the European weapons of war were better. But you would resist them alone with non-violence. You might be annihilated to a man but no one could conquer you." Gandhiji went on to tell them what he has been saying on more than one occasion recently that the Indian struggle for independence had been mere passive resistance which is a weapon of the weak and often a stepping stone to active armed resistance. If the Congress had really adopted non­violence, the present communal strife just could not have come' into being. The bravery of the heart was far greater than the bravery of the body. A non-violent Indonesia could lead the East; a position Gandhiji would have liked India to hold. But today a mighty flood of violence was sweeping over India which they had not, to their hurt, learnt how to resist non-violently. "Unless," he ended, "we cultivate this strength India will not fulfill the high hopes I have cherished for her in my heart all these many many years."

New Delhi, 10-7-‘47

Harijan, 20-7-1947