RELIGST 2H03 Lecture Notes - Jain Symbols, Indira Gandhi, Nonviolent Resistance

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Published on 14 Apr 2013
McMaster University
Religious Studies
Peace is an end; it is not the absence of war; it is the fullness of justice &
equity, etc.
Anti-violence is a position; it is the rejection of violence, and lobbies for its
reduction; it’s definition is ever changing because our understanding of
violence is also always changing
Non-violence is an ethic/principle as well as a strategy; it is an ethic in the
sense that it is a spiritual imperative; it is a strategy in how it applies to non-
violent tactics
o Non-violent tactics has to do with the strategic use of non-violence; it
is the use of tactics to achieve specific social/political goal
Strikes, boycotts, civil disobedience, public shaming, etc
There’s like a 180 tactics that can be used
o There’s no word dedicated to non-violence, even though so many
religions and cultures are dedicated to it; instead there’s always a
focus on violence/harm
Ahimsa, means non-harm
What Is Non-Violence?
Descriptions of Non-violence
o To Gandhi, non-violence was not a tactic, it was a deeply held moral
conviction which affected all his actions
o “Avoiding injury to anything on earth, in thought, word and deed
o “The greatest force at the disposal of humanity”
o He denied the concept of an enemy and believed in the use of non-
violence as both a means and an end; he believed using it would call
forth the greatest courage
If the means are violent, then it only sows the seeds of more
o Gandhi wrote a lot, especially about non-violence, and used it as a way
to spread his message
He regularly went to jail for civil disobedience, and it was
during this time that he wrote
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Martin Luther King Jr.:
o “Non-violence is the right and good use of power”
o He believed it was a ‘potent weapon’ for social and collective
transformation, based on love and renunciation of violence
It “means avoiding not only external physical violence but also
internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man,
but you refuse to hate him.”
It’s the idea that violence begins on thought
Connection to Jainism: Gandhi was influenced by it, and
MLK was influenced by Gandhi
To King, the importance of love was the message of
Cesar Chavez (labor organizer)
o “Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid
or weak…Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice.
It is the patience to win”
Non-violent takes time to have effect, think of how long it took
for the Indian revolution; despite the time (decades), it caused
far more deaths
Non-violence creates less suffering yet it takes courage and
Joan Baez (folk singer, social activist)
o “That’s all non-violence is—organized love”
Robert Holmes (one of the editors of the textbook)
o “To answer the question, ‘what is non-violence’ requires considering
how people would act under various kinds of circumstances and why.
Most of us are non-violence, most of the time…It is when confronted
with violence, threats, lawlessness, injustice or oppression that most
people think violence is justified.”
o A non-violent approach says that violence is rarely justified; it
requires meeting those kinds of circumstances with another kind of
response; a response of refusing to see the ‘other’ as an enemy, as well
as acts of civil disobedience, passive resistance, strikes, boycotts, sit-
ins, protests, fasts, refusal to pay taxes, etc.
Smith Christopher (theorist)
o “Non-violence includes not only the refusal to engage in lethal
activities, but it also presumes a commitment to strive for conditions
of fairness, justice, and respect in human relations”
o Non-violence implies an active commitment to social change; it is a
determination to create the kind of social environment that radically
reduces the conditions that give rise to violence
o Non-violence is a way to achieve positive peace which is fairness,
justice and respect
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In Summary: Non-Violence
As an ethic: upholds the view that moral behavior excludes the use of
As a principle: supports the pacifist position that war and killing are never
As a practice: a means to effect personal, social, and political transformation
As a political philosophy: maintains that violence is self-perpetuating and can
never provide a means to security or a peaceful end
As a strategy: used to achieve a specific social or political goal through non-
violent tactics
Examples Of Successful Non-Violent Campaigns
Pre-1960’s Latin America
o A lot of the countries involved often had military takeovers assisted
by the American Government
1970’s and 1980s South Africa
1980’s and 90’s Eastern Europe
o 14 nations underwent non-violent revolutions to throw dictatorships,
but some of them weren’t successful
1970’s Norway
o Prevention of nuclear power stations from being built
1977 Kenya
o A tree planting movement to prevent the construction of a park that
ultimately led to the stepping down of the country’s dictator
2011 Arab Spring
2012 Occupy Movement
2013 Idle No More Movement
Culture of Peace/Culture of Violence
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies,
in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who
are cold and are not clothed Former US President Dwight Eisenhower
“The grim fact is that we prepare for war like precocious giants, and for
peace like retarded pygmies.” Lester B. Pearson
Culture of war is that there is an image of us and them because to go to war
you need an enemy (propaganda inducing); it is high military spending and
armies; an authoritarian governance; secrecy and propaganda; structural and
physical violence; male domination; exploitation of the environment;
education for war/militarism; materialistic orientation
Culture for peace is that of respect, solidity; dis-arment; democrative
government; accountability; free flow of information; respect for human
rights; equality of sexes; sustainable economy and development
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