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PEACE, NON-VIOLENCE & CONFLICT RESOLUTION > MY NON-VIOLENCE For Shame !

 

84. For Shame !

No Moral Alibis

"It has become the fashion these days to ascribe all such ugly manifestations to the activities of hooligans. It hardly becomes us to take refuge in that moral alibi. Who are the hooligans after all? They are our own countrymen and so long as any countryman of ours indulges in such acts we cannot disown responsibility for them consistently with our claim that we are one people. It matters little whether those who were responsible for the happenings are denounced as goondas or praised as patriots — praise and blame must equally belong to us all. The only manly and becoming course for those who are aspiring to be free is to accept either whilst doing our duty.


"The Way of the Lord"

"In eating, sleeping and in the performance of other physical functions, man is not different from the brute. What distinguishes him from the brute is his ceaseless striving to rise above the brute on the moral plane. Mankind is at the cross roads. It has to make its choice between the law of the jungle and the law of humanity. We in India deliberately adopted the latter twenty-five years back, but I am afraid that whilst we profess to follow the higher way, our practice has not always conformed to our profession. We have always proclaimed from the housetops that non-violence is the way of the brave but there are some amongst us who have brought Ahimsa into disrepute by using it as a weapon of the weak. In my opinion, to remain a passive spectator of the kind of crimes that Bombay has witnessed of late is cowardice. Let me say in all humility that Ahimsa belongs to the brave. Pritam has sung: 'The way of the Lord is for the brave, not for the coward.' By the way of the Lord is here meant the way of non-violence and truth. I have said before that I do not envisage God other than truth and non-violence. If you have accepted the doctrine of Ahimsa without a full realization of its implications you are at liberty to repudiate it. I believe in confessing one's mistakes and correcting them. Such confession strengthens one and purifies the soul. Ahimsa calls for the strength and courage to suffer without retalia­tion, to receive blows without returning any. But that does not exhaust its meaning. Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly. We have to cultivate that courage, if we are to win India's independence through truth and non-violence as proclaimed by the Congress. It is an ideal worth living for and dying for. Every one of you who has accepted that ideal should feel that inasmuch as a single English woman or child is assaulted it is a challenge to your creed of non-violence and you should protect the threatened victim even at the cost of your life. Then alone you will have the right to sing 'The way of the Lord is for the brave, not for the coward.' To attack defenceless English women and children because one has a grievance against the present Government hardly becomes a human being."

Harijan, 7-4-1946