In dealing with my answer to the criticism that the Jews had been non-violent for 2,000 years, The Statesman says in the course of an editorial:
world has heard of Pastor Niemoeller and the sufferings of the Lutheran Church;
here many pastors and individual Christians bore themselves bravely before
People's Courts, violence and threats; without retaliation they bore noble
witness to the truth. And what change of heart is there in Germany? Buried in
prisons and concentration camps are today, and have been for five years, members
of the Bible Searchers' League who rejected Nazi militarism as conflicting with
Christ's Gospel of peace. And how many Germans know of them or, if they know, do
anything about it?
"Non-violence, whether of the weak or of the strong, seems, except in very
special conditions, rather a personal than a Social gospel. A man's salvation
may be left to himself; politicians are concerned with causes, creeds and
minorities. It is suggested by Mr. Gandhi that Herr Hitler would bow before
courage ' infinitely superior to that shown by his own Storm Troopers'. If that
were so, one would have supposed that he would have paid tribute to such men as
Herr Von Ossietzky. Courage to a Nazi, however, seems a virtue only when
displayed by his own supporters: elsewhere it becomes ' the impudent provocation
of Jewish-Marxist canaille'. Mr. Gandhi has produced his prescription in view of the inability of the
Great Powers effectively to move La the matter, an inability we all deplore and
would see remedied. His sympathy may do much for the comfort of the Jews, but
seems likely to do less for their enlargement. Christ is the supreme example of
non-violence, and the indignities heaped upon Him at His tortured death proved
once and for all that in a worldly and temporal sense it can fail hopelessly."
I do not
think that the sufferings of Pastor Niemoeller and others have been in vain.
They have preserved their self-respect intact. They have proved that their faith
was equal to any suffering. That they have not proved sufficient for melting
Herr Hitler's heart merely shows that it is made of harder material than stone.
But the hardest metal yields to sufficient heat. Even so must the hardest heart
melt before sufficiency of the heat of non-violence? And there is no limit to
the capacity of non-violence to generate heat.
action is a resultant of a multitude of forces even of a contrary nature. There
is no waste of energy. So we learn in the books on mechanics. This is equally
true of human actions. The difference is that in the one case we generally know
the forces at work, and when we do, we can mathematically foretell the
resultant. In the case of human actions, they result from a concurrence of
forces, of most of which we have no knowledge. But our ignorance must not be
made to serve the cause of disbelief in the power of these forces. Rather is our
ignorance a cause for greater faith. And non-violence being the mightiest force
in the world and also the most elusive in its working, it demands the greatest
exercise of faith. Even as we believe in God in faith, so have we to believe in
non-violence in faith.
is but one man enjoying no more than the average span of life. He would be a
spent force, if he had not the backing of his people. I do not despair of his
responding to human suffering even though caused by him. But I must refuse to
believe that the Germans as a nation have no heart or markedly less than the
other nations of the earth. They will some day or other rebel against their own
adored hero, if he does not wake up be-times. And when he or they do, we shall
find that the sufferings of the Pastor and his fellow-workers had not a little
to do with the awakening.
conflict may bring disaster to German arms; it cannot change the German heart
even as the last defeat did not. It produced a Hitler vowed to wreak vengeance
on the victors. And what a vengeance it is! My answer, therefore, must be the
answer that Stephenson gave to his fellow-workers who had despaired of ever
filling the deep pit that made the first railway possible. He asked his
coworkers of little faith to have more faith and go on filling the pit. It was
not bottomless, it must be filled. Even so I do not despair because Herr
Hitler's or the German heart has not yet melted. On the contrary I plead for
more suffering and still more till the melting has become visible to the naked
eye. And even as the Pastor has covered himself with glory, a single Jew
bravely standing up and refusing to bow to Hitler's decree will cover himself
with glory and lead the way to the deliverance of the fellow-Jews.
I hold that
non-violence is not merely a personal virtue. It is also social virtue to be
cultivated like the other virtues. Surely society is largely regulated by the
expression of non-violence in its mutual dealings. What I ask for is an
extension of it on a larger, national and international scale.
unprepared to find the view expressed by The Statesman writer that the
example of Christ proved once and for all that in a worldly and temporal sense
it can fail hopelessly!! Though I cannot claim to be a Christian in the
sectarian sense, the example of Jesus's suffering is a factor in the composition
of my undying faith in non-violence which rules all my actions wordly and
temporal. And I know that there are hundreds of Christians who believe likewise.
Jesus lived and died in vain, if he did not teach us to regulate the whole of
life by the eternal Law of Love.
- On the
train to Bardoli, 2-1-'39