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Alex Steffen, 11 Sep 06

Though today is the fifth anniversary of the tragedy in New York, it is also the 100th anniversary of the birth of a tool that in the long run has proven far more important for humanity: the philosophy of nonviolent resistance created by the Mahatma Gandhi:

On Sept. 11, 1906, Gandhi, then a young, little-known lawyer working in South Africa, joined a meeting of fellow Indians in a Johannesburg theater to protest a proposed law that would force Indians to carry identity documents and be fingerprinted. ...

Gandhi convinced those present to resist or ignore the law — but without resorting to violence. He called the idea "Satyagraha," which literally translates as "insistence on truth."

Gandhi's Satyagraha philosophy has, indeed, proved one of the most important political ideas of the 20th century, leading directly to the independence of India, but also influencing the American Civil Rights Movement, the Czech leaders of the Velvet Revolution, and a new generation of nonviolent revolutionaries who are now at work everywhere in the world.

(Thanks, Oceah)

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This philosophy, indeed, religion has much older roots than Gandi. Although I dont know of any pre-socratics with the same idea, non-harming and non-violence are a basic principle of the teachings of the Buddha and his contemporaries the Jains (~500BC). While non-violent protest might be more of a Ghandian idea in truth it has roots that extend back mnay thousands of years into Indian culture in particular. (They say all such Indian spiritual ideas have their roots on the Gangies!) Remember the Tibetan Buddhist monks who would set themselves on suicidal fire in protest at the Chinese oocupation. Though this is an extreme no doubt Buddhists and Jains had acted similarly down through forgotten history. For a modern exposition of the need for non-violence nit just in action or deed but in though as well see the great Vietnamese Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh's "Being Peace". This from a man who lived through all the atrocities of the Vietnam War.

Posted by: matthew on 12 Sep 06



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