Gandhi did not blame those who served in the military for causing war; or not only them. In fact, he said that if someone was eating wheat that came from some kind of military domination, they were participating in the spoils of war, and might as well consider joining the army themselves. He felt doing so would be more courageous, and, frankly, more honest. If a person loathes war with all of their hearts, he said, then they should non-cooperate with it in every possible department of life. Do not support the government that uses it; do not pay taxes to it; and do not “eat the wheat” (or pump the oil) that it procures. Then, not only will you be against war intellectually, you will be against it entirely. Well, almost. Gandhi will always draw us to look at root causes, to look more closely at what things appear to be, in search of what they really are. Only then can we do something about them. If the military is a symptom of a deeper disease, we have to take the time to ask: what might that disease be? Distrust? Insecurity? Poverty and exploitation? A lack of compassion? Or maybe a lack of imagination when it comes to meeting our needs? Wherever we start we’ll have to remind ourselves to look at our own involvement, subtle as that may be: that’s where we will begin to uncover healing solutions. And let it be known, these solutions are already there. They are to be found not only in withdrawing support from the ‘conventional’ military but in building alternatives, like unarmed peacekeeping. Including the willingness to participate in such teams. There’s a role for everyone!
Have you ever thought of the military as a symptom of a larger problem before? Take some time to map out that deeper problem and map out already-existing solutions for each problem. For example: what would help us to overcome a cultural failure of imagination when it comes to resolving our conflicts without violence?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 email@example.com