Thursday, March 10, 2011

Embrace Symbols that Celebrate Nonviolence & Reject Violence

"Anger is the enemy of ahimsa (nonviolence) and pride is a monster that swallows it up." - Mohandas K. Gandhi

"The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: ‘You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear. I do not wish to impose my truth, nor do I wish you to impose yours on me. We are going to seek the truth together’." - Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

Events in Libya over the past few weeks have underlined the importance of nonviolent civic resistance and its moral and strategic advantage over violent resistance especially when confronting extremely brutal regimes.

Gene Sharp of The Albert Einstein Institution in an interview with the BBC on February 21, 2011 offered concrete steps on the path to a nonviolent revolution against a dictatorship:
* Develop a strategy for winning freedom and a vision of the society you want
* Overcome fear by small acts of resistance
* Use colors and symbols to demonstrate unity of resistance
* Learn from historical examples of the successes of non-violent movements
* Use non-violent "weapons"
* Identify dictatorship's pillars of support & develop a strategy for undermining each
* Use oppressive or brutal acts by the regime as a recruiting tool for your movement
* Isolate or remove from the movement people who use or advocate violence
The marketing of Che Guevara as a symbol of rebellion has had a serious downside. The ideas behind his image are the antithesis of the nonviolent philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and are summed up in two quotes by the Argentine revolutionary at the UN General Assembly in 1964: “We must say here what is a known truth, which we have always expressed before the world: firing squad executions, yes, we have executed; we are executing and we will continue to execute as long as is necessary. Our struggle is a struggle to the death."
and in Havana on April 16, 1967: "Hatred as an element of the struggle; a relentless hatred of the enemy, impelling us over and beyond the natural limitations that man is heir to and transforming him into an effective, violent, selective and cold killing machine. Our soldiers must be thus; a people without hatred cannot vanquish a brutal enemy."

This is an ideology born of violence, in the service of violence and terror with no mercy for the adversary nor recognition of that adversary's humanity. It inspired guerrilla and terrorist movements around the world and led to military juntas to combat them just as brutally. This is the opposite of a principled nonviolent philosophy and must be rejected if humanity is to have a future.

Today is the 52nd anniversary of the national Tibetan uprising. On March 10, 1959 thousands of Tibetans marched to the Dalai Lama's palace in response to the threat that Chinese Communists would arrest him and the Lhasa uprising began. Those heads of state denouncing alleged "colonial designs "on Libya and defending Qaddafi while denying the atrocities his regime is committing are silent about China's half century long colonization & military occupation of Tibet. 52 years later the Dalai Lama has become a disciple of Gandhi and with regards to nonviolence says: "[T]he very root of respect for human rights and nonviolence is love and kindness to others."

Today, March 10, 2011 also coincides with the announcement that another Gandhian disciple of non-violence Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet shortly will be freed after a decade of unjust captivity in Cuba during which he has maintained his commitment to nonviolence.

Now is the time to end the marketing of Che and the cult of violence and promote Gandhian nonviolence and a culture of love and truth.

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