On International Day of Non-violence, a date chosen because it was Gandhi’s Birthday, n2k looks at what non-violence means and also at the impact of renowned peacekeepers.
“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was the leader of the Indian independence movement. He also believed in non-violence action to deal with political problems. He believed that Indians must not use violence or hatred in their fight for freedom.
Today is the anniversary of his birthday and the day chosen by the General Assembly of the United Nations – a group of world leaders, as International Day of Non-violence.
The idea of the day is to educate and raise public awareness about the message of non-violence, and “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.
What is non-violence?
The principle of non-violence, or non-violent resistance, means that physical violence is not used to force through a social or political change. Although Gandhi is said to be the first to use this principle, many people all over the world have followed in his footsteps and use non-violent actions when they’re campaigning for social justice.
Those who believe in non-violence believe that rulers can only have power if the people give them their consent. Campaigners for non-violence focus on educating people about what is going on so that they can stop supporting those who act in unacceptable ways.
There are three main categories of non-violent action:
- protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils;
- non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.
The Nobel Peace Prize
You may have heard of the Nobel Peace Prize. The award has been around since 1901 and honours people from all over the world for their work in peace movements. They can also be awarded to organisations.
The Prize can go to those who are in the process of resolving a conflict or creating peace. This has caused some controversy because sometimes these campaigns have actually failed to create lasting peace.
Others are also concerned about those peacemakers who have not been awarded the prize including Gandhi himself! He was actually nominated to receive the prize many times – the final time being 1948, a few days before he was murdered. As only living people can be awarded the accolade, Gandhi never received it.
In 1993, Nelson Mandela and Willem de Klerk, the president of South Africa were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa”.
In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the prize to recgonise her 30 years of work with the poorest people of Calcutta, India and many other cities in India and around the world.