When Gandhi pronounced these words in the 1940s, it was in response to someone inquiring what could be done by the Indian Congress in the face of “raids and scares and possible disturbances.”
His response, however, is timeless. A peace brigade, a team of unarmed and trained nonviolent responders, is the future of peacekeeping and should be a household term. What are we to do about our fears of threats of violence and the real dangers in our society? Doing nothing is never going to be an option for Gandhi. Neither is depending on a security force that actually means trading away “security” for “force,” when you really look at it. The only way to address our very real concerns effectively is with nonviolent power. And this is a power that can be organized, and institutionalized. Would you volunteer, if you could, for that project?
A peace brigade, to be sure, is no guarantee against getting harmed in the line of duty. Gandhi didn’t hide the fact that there were dangers involved; he simply reinterpreted how one might respond, informed, as he was, by nonviolence. “The risk of death is there, whether you choose violence or nonviolence. Why not then prepare yourselves to die nonviolently?” Hard to argue with that logic!
Thanks to recent studies, we know some things about the use of nonviolence in serious conflicts (e.g. peace team work) that Gandhi knew intuitively: that there are no “short violent cuts” to success, that nonviolent means, when we learn to use them, are safer, quicker, and in the long run vastly more effective.
Do one thing today, have a conversation or share a story, in an effort to introduce the concept of a Peace Brigade to someone who has never heard of it before. Or, volunteer for a Peace Brigade-type group today.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org