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140. The Fundamental Difference
Gandhiji said in his after-prayer speech: It is said that my speeches nowadays are depressing. Some even suggest that I should not speak at all. This multitude of advisers reminds me of a painter who had exposed his painting in a shop window without glass inviting critics to mark the parts they did not like. The result was a daub. The painter had simply tried to show that it was impossible to please all parties. He was, therefore, satisfied that he had painted a good picture. His business was to produce a work which satisfied his artistic taste. Mine is a similar case. I hope I never speak for the sake of speaking. I speak because I feel that I have something to say to the people. It is true that I do not agree with what many of my closest friends have done or are doing. Whilst I am in Delhi and I have an opinion about some current events, I cannot help giving that opinion. And what are the di­fferences that matter? If you analyse them you would find only one fundamental difference to which all the others could be traced. Non-violence is my creed. It never was of the Congress. With the Congress it has always been a policy. A policy takes the shape of a creed whilst it lasts, no longer. The Congress had every right to change it when it found necessary. A creed can never admit of any change. Now though according to the Congress constitution the policy abides, the practice has undoubtedly altered the policy. Technicians may quarrel with the fact. You and I cannot, must not. Why should not the makers of the present Congress change their policy in fact? The law will take care of itself. It should also be noted that in the constitution the word peaceful is used, not non-violent.
In Bombay when the Congress met in 1934 I tried hard to have the word peaceful replaced by non-violent and I failed. Therefore, it is open to give the word peaceful a meaning probably less than that of non-violent. I see none. But my opinion is irrelevant. It is for the savants to determine the difference, if any. All that you and I need to realize is that the Congress practice is not non-violent today in the accepted sense of the term. If the Congress was pledged to the policy of non-violence, there would be no army supported by it. But she sports an army which may eat up the civilians and establish military rule in India unless the people listen to me. Am I to give up all hope of their ever listening to me? I cannot do it whilst there is breath left in me. And if the people do not wish to listen to my non-violent dirge, there is no reason for critics to dissuade me from speaking to the public.
New Delhi, 15-7-'47
Harijan, 27-7-1947