Archive for August, 2008

Issues of Social Justice, Change and Non-violence/Peaceful Struggles

Posted on August 5, 2008. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1. World Peace | Tags: , , , , , |

Issues of Social Justice, Change and Non-violence: “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”  Mahatma Gandhi

When we call for, and take a stand for World Peace, we are inevitably faced with questions of social justice without which conflicts within nations and between different nations flare up and intensify.

In turn, when looking at issues of Social Justice, one of the most important areas of focus is that of democratic involvement of citizens in choosing leaders, and influencing and directing decisions on how they are governed.

In the last few years the struggles for democracy and democratic governments have created flash points and conflicts over different parts of the globe, such as in Myanmar (Burma), Tibet and Pakistan in Asia, different countries in Latin America, and in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, and Zimbabwe in Africa.

These struggles for democracy have many times resulted in violence and brutal repression of opposition forces and the deaths of many people sometimes on both sides of the conflicts. The end-results have been – intensified conflicts and deeper chasms between Governments and oppositions groups.

How should issues of social justice, for democratic rights and governance be handled? How should opposition parties fight for democracy, and how should governments respond? How can each side impact the resolution of these issues so that conflicts are not intensified and positions hardened? These are some of the questions that need to be looked at when attempting to peacefully resolve issues of Social Justice and democracy.

The answers to these questions are by their nature complex and multi-faceted. There is no simple answer or remedy that addresses them all. However, a guiding principle that needs to be adhered to is that articulated by the great leader Mahatma Gandhi that “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”

Governments that use violence to suppress opposition movements for democracy and change will only radicalize and make the opposition movements more extreme, and invite more violence on themselves and their supporters.

On the other hand opposition movements that use violence to achieve what they feel is legitimately theirs will also push the governments in power to harden their positions and intensify their violent suppression on them and their supporters.

Violence will only result in a cycle of hurt and vengeance that creates needless suffering, wastes human lives and the meager resources the county has. A victory achieved by using violence will bear the seeds of more conflict as the ‘losers’ now have new scores to settle and perceived or real hurts to avenge.

Lessons of the non-violent methods of working for change used by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian independence movement, and by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States, need to be studied and adapted as models for opposition movements. They hold the best promises for a change that will result in positive movement and change. They stand in strong contrast to the results from the use of violence to achieve change. The results from the use of violence to achieve chage include the creation of new wounds and hatreds and the intensifying of old ones, laying the ground for the new governments using violence to suppress the new opposition movements and groups.

The path of non-violence to achieve change is a difficult one, that is not glamorous, it requires a lot of sacrifice but in the end offers the best prospects for meaningful and lasting change. It offers the best prospects for minimizing the creation of new conflicts, and resolving the ones that already exist.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...