April 06NextPrevious   

“Independence from the bottom up”–Daily Metta

“Independence must begin at the bottom.”

-–Gandhi (Harijan, 7-28-1946, p. 236)

On April 6, 1930, the Great Salt March reached the shore in Dandi, 80, 000 marchers strong, to break the salt law in India, which stated that Indians did not have British permission to make salt from their own supply on their own shores. At 8:30 am, Gandhi historically picked up a lump of salt, and addressed the crowd:

“Now that the technical or ceremonial breach of the salt law has been committed, it is now open to anyone who would take the risk of prosecution under the salt law to manufacture salt, wherever he wishes and wherever it is convenient. My advice is that the workers should everywhere make use of it and instruct the villagers likewise, telling the villager at the same time that he runs the risk of being prosecuted. In other words, the villager should be fully instructed as to the incidence of the salt tax, and the manner of breaking the laws and regulations connected with it, so as to have the salt tax repealed.”

The common approach to violent “democracy building” today tries to impose independence from the top-down, Just depend on us, we’ll help make you free. Gandhi helped us to see that  such dependency makes us less free. The power of nonviolence lies in its being a “independence from the bottom-up” model: We’re already free and we are willing to show you this is true. Freedom is the essence of being human. Although the salt law was not in fact repealed as a result of the campaign, it did something even more significant: it worked (as opposed to “worked”) because it demonstrated to the Indian people that they were not subject to British laws.

Experiment in Nonviolence

Are you chafing under some sort of dependency?  Analyze it.  See if there is a way you have given in to it yourself, and a way to nonviolently extricate yourself and the other person if there is one.

The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 info@mettacenter.org