By Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
Let us embrace non-violence in these times of violence! These times in which one has no qualms of conscience in aborting the unborn child or cheering for the death penalty to be given to the ‘hardened’ criminal; times in which, child abuse is rampant and one normally looks the other side when women are brutalized in the privacy of their homes and in the full-glare of society; times in which, a simple misunderstanding can lead to a murder or the accidental touch by another vehicle could lead to deadly road rage; times in which, war and bloody conflicts are easily justified by those in power, who control the destinies of ordinary people.
Let us embrace non-violence as an attitude! The attitude by which one looks at or perceives the ‘other’; the attitude which is warm, welcoming and inclusive; the attitude which makes it irrelevant whether the nationality, race, religion, colour, gender, caste, ethnicity, ideology or whatever, is different; the attitude which is non-discriminatory and non-xenophobic; the attitude that we all belong to one human family and what matters ultimately, is our common and shared humanity.
Let us embrace non-violence as a right! The right of every person everywhere in this world; the rights which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the Constitutions of most countries in today’s world; the rights of the other- to life, to believe in the religion of one’s choice, to freedom of speech and expression; to eat and drink, to read and see what one wishes to- without fear or favour; the rights which are fundamental and inalienable, the denial of them is indeed violence!
Let us embrace non-violence with courage! The courage one needs to stand up against the fascists, the fanatics and the fundamentalists of today; the courage to take on the killers of Gauri Lankesh, Shantanu Bhowmick, Narendra Dabholkar,M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, of other media persons, RTI activists,and human rights defenders; the courage to take on the molesters of the lady students in the Banaras Hindu University and those who suppress the voices of students elsewhere; the courage to expose the Sangh Parivar and those who violently kill and crush others, be it those who eat beef or innocent children in the hospitals of UP. Mahatma Gandhi puts it succinctly, “nonviolence is not to be used ever as the shield of the coward. It is the weapon of the brave.”
Let us embrace non-violence with compassion! That compassion which is necessary to reach out to the Rohingyas, fleeing violence and persecution; the compassion to prevent the landmines, the rubber bullets and the hostilities being unleashed on them; the compassion which will ensure that India willingly opens the doors to them; the compassion to make refugees and other displaced persons feel welcomed and ‘at home’; the compassion to build bridges everywhere.
Let us embrace non-violence in freedom! The freedom to take on the peddlers of war and violence; the freedom to carefront the power-hungry, crazy so-called ‘leaders’ of this world who spew hate, venom and divisiveness all the time; the freedom to expose the profiteering, blood-sucking military-industrial complex who care two hoots if violence becomes a way of life for many in this world; the freedom to challenge those countries who spend more on arms and ammunition than on the much-needed social sector.
Let us embrace non-violence with Truth! Truth that is the other side of the coin of ‘non-violence’ for Gandhi, as he aptly put it “my religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realising Him”. Truth as we celebrate his memory on another birth anniversary. Truth in dealing with the ‘Godse’s’ of our times. Truth as a non-negotiable and as the way of living in a more just, peaceful and non-violent world.
Let us embrace non-violence on October 2, the International Day of Non-Violence; a day on which, in keeping with the UN resolution, we all need to reaffirm “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”; a day on which we must pledge to go beyond tokenism and cosmetics, to make non-violence an integral dimension of our daily lives.
Let us embrace non-violence with the realisation in the words of Gandhi that, “nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” Embracing non-violence today must be our way of proceeding!
(Fr. Cedric Prakash sj is a human rights activist. Contact:firstname.lastname@example.org)