Future Without Violence

All One Has to Be Is a Normal Decent Human Being

Anwar A Khan

18 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

World peace, or peace on Earth, is the concept of an ideal state of happiness, freedom and peace within and among all people and nations on earth. This idea of violence free world is a motivation for people and nations to willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that upholds love and peace. Different cultures, religions, philosophies and organisations have varying concepts on how such a state would come about.

Various religious and secular organisations have the stated aim of achieving world peace through addressing human rights, technology, education, engineering, medicine or diplomacy used as an end to all forms of fighting. Since 1945, the United Nations and the 5 permanent members of its Security Council (the US, Russia, China, France and the UK) have operated under the aim to resolve conflicts without war or declarations of war. Nonetheless, nations have entered numerous military conflicts since then utterly brushing aside the UN resolution, especially American administration and its allies.

Our problem today is that we have allowed the internal to become lost in the external. We have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live. So much of modern life can be summarised in that arresting dictum of the poet Thoreau, “Improved means to an unimproved end”. This is the serious predicament, the deep and haunting problem confronting modern man. If we are to survive today, our moral and spiritual lag must be eliminated. Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul. When the “without” of man’s nature subjugates the “within”, dark storm clouds begin to form in the world.

This problem of spiritual and moral lag, which constitutes modern man’s chief dilemma, expresses itself in three larger problems which grow out of man’s ethical infantilism. Each of these problems, while appearing to be separate and isolated, is inextricably bound to the other. I refer to man-made racial injustice, poverty, and war bringing about unspeakable sufferings for people all over the world.

We live in a day, says the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, “when civilisation is shifting its basic outlook: a major turning point in history where the presuppositions on which society is structured are being analysed, sharply challenged, and profoundly changed.” What we are seeing now is a freedom explosion, the realisation of “an idea whose time has come”, to use Victor Hugo’s phrase. The deep rumbling of discontent that we hear today is the thunder of disinherited masses, raising from dungeons of oppression to the bright hills of freedom, in one majestic chorus the rising masses singing, in the words of our violence free world of song.

Non-violence has also meant that people in the agonising struggles of years have taken suffering upon themselves instead of inflicting it on others. It has meant, as I said, that we are no longer afraid and cowed. But in some substantial degree it has meant that we do not want to instil fear in others or into the society of which we are a part. The movement does not seek to liberate people at the expense of the humiliation and enslavement of America and its vassal states. It seeks no victory over anyone. It seeks to liberate the world society from fear, violence, war, economic sanctions and to share in the self-liberation of all the people of the world.

Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.

In a real sense non-violence seeks to redeem the spiritual and moral lag that we want to speak of as the chief dilemma of modern man. It seeks to secure moral ends through moral means. Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. Robert J. Burrowes wrote an article titled, “The Disintegrated Mind: The Greatest Threat to Human Survival on Earth” which appeared on 13th May 2019 in Sri Lanka Guardian, Sri Lanka and it is of primal importance in the context of establishing non-violence world society (Robert has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a non-violent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’)

The non-violent resisters can summarise their message in the simple terms: we will take direct action against injustice despite the failure of governmental and other official agencies to act first. We will not obey unjust laws or submit to unjust practices. We will do this peacefully, openly, cheerfully because our aim is to persuade. We adopt the means of non-violence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts. We will always be willing to talk and seek fair compromise, but we are ready to suffer when necessary and even risk our lives to become witnesses to truth as we see it.

This approach to the problem of superpowers’ injustice in different forms is not at all without successful precedent. It was used in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire and free his people from the political domination and economic exploitation inflicted upon them for centuries. He struggled only with the weapons of truth, soul force, non-injury, and courage.

In the past years unarmed gallant men and women of the world have given living testimony to the moral power and efficacy of non-violence. I am only too well aware of the human weaknesses and failures which exist, the doubts about the efficacy of non-violence, and the open advocacy of violence by some. But I am still convinced that non-violence is both the most practically sound and morally excellent way to grapple with the age-old problem of doing injustice through violence.

Suppressed people cannot remain suppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself. This, too, will be a fierce struggle, but we must not be afraid to pursue the remedy no matter how formidable the task through non-violence acts. We are inevitably our brothers and sisters because of the interrelated structure of reality.

Further a great evil confronting our world is that of war by war-mongering nations – USA and its client states. Recent events have vividly reminded us that those nations are not reducing but rather increasing their arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. The best brains in the highly developed nations of the world are devoted to military technology. The proliferation of nuclear weapons has not been halted, in spite of the Limited Test Ban Treaty.

When I speak of love, I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response which is little more than emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the First Epistle of Saint John19:

Let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone

That loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. As Arnold Toynbee said, “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore, the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.” We can no longer afford to worship the God of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. Love is the key to the solution of the problems of the world.

We are sorry, but we do not want to be an emperor. That’s not our business. We do not want to rule or conquer anyone. We should like to help everyone - if possible - Christians, Muslims, Buddhists… We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We do not want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. That has to be reclaimed.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, and has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness is hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost…Let us all unite, not divide! All one has to be is a normal decent human being.


The writer is a senior citizen who writes on politics, political and human-centred figures, current and international affairs