“There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for,” wrote Mahatma Gandhi in “The Story of My Experiments with Truth” in 1927. To commemorate the birth of this apostle of non-violence, the United Nations decided in 2007 to observe the International Day of Non-violence every year on 2 October. It coincides with Gandhi Jayanti which is celebrated in India, in remembrance of the father of the nation. As a philosophy, non-violence has been an age-old concept. What Mahatma Gandhi did was to use it as a novel strategy for the Indian independence movement and he eventually succeeded.
Through the media, we continue to watch, hear and read every day about war, terror, explosions, shootouts, murders, and so many other kinds of violence all over the world. People are assembling in huge numbers demanding justice. Mobs are fighting on the streets seeking vengeance. It is not therefore insignificant that the world has found at least one day in a year to think about non-violence!
What exactly is non-violence? Gandhiji had explained that it did not mean inaction, that he even preferred violence to cowardice. He said that non-violence was the road to truth. He also said that non-violence was impossible without a living faith in God. A non-violent man can do nothing save by the power and grace of God, without which he will not have the courage for it. (Ref: http://www.mkgandhi.org)
The International Day of Non-violence can be an occasion to ponder upon the teachings of another person, Jesus the son of God himself, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also….You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matthew 5:38-45) For Jesus, non-violence was not just a topic for his sermon, he practised it. When he was dying on the cross, he had prayed for his tormentors, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)