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PEACE, NON-VIOLENCE & CONFLICT RESOLUTION > MY NON-VIOLENCE Sword v. Spirit

 

15. Sword v. Spirit

A friend sends the following interesting extract from an old number of My Magazine: "No conqueror ever gained more by wars than did Napoleon, Emperor of the French, who, beginning as a poor Corsican Lieute­nant, for a little while dominated Europe, altering boundaries, upset­ting thrones. Yet Napoleon knew that it was folly to rely on force. * There are only two powers in the world,' he said, not after he had been defeated and exiled, but while he appeared to be at the height of his success, 'those powers are the spirit and the sword. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.'

But why, we may ask, did Napoleon, if he saw so plainly the uselessness of war, continue to make war? Why did he use the sword until it was wrenched out of his hand at Waterloo? Partly because Napoleon, like the rest of us, could not always practise what he preached, but partly because other kings and emperors would not let him alone. They were not as wise as he. When he pleaded for peace they would not believe he was sincere. To the Emperor of Austria after a fierce battle he addressed this personal appeal :

'Thousands of Frenchmen and Austrians have been killed. The prospect of continuance of such horrors distresses me so greatly that I make a personal appeal to you. Amid grief and surrounded by 15,000 corpses, I implore Your Majesty, I feel bound to give you an urgent warning. You are far from the scene, your heart cannot be so deeply moved as mine is on the spot.

*Let us give our generation peace and tranquility. If the men of the later days are such fools as to come to blows, they will learn wisdom after a few years of fighting and will then live at peace with one another.' "

Would that India, which through her Congress has subscribed to the policy of non-violence, will adhere to it and demonstrate to a world groaning under the curse of the sword that the spirit does triumph over the sword in national affairs as it has ever been shown to have triumphed in individual affairs.

Young India, 14-2-1929