Non-Violent Actions & Peace: Need of the Hour Inclusion in School Curriculum is Essential
As a media academic and researcher, I have travelled to few countries on various continents of the world, including Thailand, Turkey, Portugal, USA, Greece, Finland, Canada, Italy, Ethiopia, Scotland (UK), and France. During my visits, other academic’s, researchers, students and others asked me one unique question: “Are you from Gandhi’s country? Are you from India? It’s great, Gandhi’s country”. I replied: “Yes”. During those times, I had mixed feelings: Gandhi has created an entirely new movement in the world. He has developed a strong weapon that does not kill anyone. He has created a new lifestyle. His style is loved by everyone. Yes, I am from Gandhi’s country. That’s why we call Gandhi the father of our nation. Gandhi is called as “Mahatma” (Great Soul). These feelings made me feel proud.
Why is Gandhi known and remembered by people from all over the world, even today? Because, he offered us a wonderful weapon called “non-violent action” so that we may achieve greater peace. Without violent actions, he achieved many great things including independence for India and also religious cohesion. In addition, he taught this new opportunity to many other societies. After Gandhi’s life, many countries, societies, groups, communities are following (except a few) this non-violence style to achieve their peace and development goals. Mahatma is considered as one of the greatest promoters of peace and non-violent activism in the world. In-line with Gandhi, many other great leaders like Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, etc., also promoted non-violence movements. In India, it is called “Ahimsha” in Hindi and “Arap Porattam” in Tamil.
The Saint Vallalar of Tamil Nadu said: “vaadiya payirai kanda pothellam wadinen.” This means: “I would shed tears on seeing the crops which are withering for want of water.”
Another Sangam Poet Kaniyan Poongundranar’s “Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kaelir” is depicted in the purpose of the United Nations. This means: “All places are ours; all are our relatives.” If every human being thinks and behaves like this, there will be no violence and peace will prevail around the world.
Non-violent actions like peaceful non-cooperation, strikes, boycotts, marches, rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins, wearing black badges are popular. During challenging times, protestors may follow these unique non-violent actions even when they are being agitated and attacked by government agencies like police or military forces. Now, these actions are followed by many groups, communities throughout the world. They are also used to inspire peaceful dialogues.
Non-violent actions are inspiring protestors and government agencies to seek more productive means to solve their problems in a peaceful manner, without damaging public property, and threats to life. Such actions also help to mitigate and reduce the feelings of hate among different stakeholders. Many international agencies, particularly non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) are also involved as intermediaries for peace keeping, conflicts resolution and transformation. More and more universities are offering peace related programmes and trainings for students and professionals. Research and development activities are also happening in many places.
But, still in many places around the world some governments and groups are using violent and extremist actions which degrades our modern civilization and humanism. It also damages the economy, environment – natural resources, as well as causes the loss and grave impact on human lives. We lose our humanism, we forget our good deeds, we forget peace and act uncivilized. That’s why there are bigger challenges before human beings. One very important challenge among them all is: “The greatest challenge for human beings is to behave as human beings.”
In the name of caste, community, religion, gods, we hold many biases. So, these biases contribute to violence and full-scale war. More than all of these biases, humanism is very important. If we want to develop a humanistic approach in all that we do, we must be rational thinkers and approach our lives thoughtfully. Civil society should not believe whatever they hear, they must check the truth / facts, non-humanistic scenarios and apply them to our understanding. This thoughtful and rationale thinking will contribute to non-violent actions and peace in our world.
As Rotary Peace Fellows, we can play an important role in changing the most challenge to worse things in the world. We can learn, practice and implement non-violent actions. Also, we can demand that our governments—through dialogue, advocacy, lobbying, etc.— utilize the positive non-violent tools like peace dialogues and more humanitarian approaches.
Peace studies should be included in more schools’, colleges’, and universities’ curriculum and encourage students to follow non-violent actions from a young age. Young people certainly can and are changing the world in a positive way. If we are promoting seeds of peace among our youth, they will grow bigger and become taller trees that promote peace in the future of our world.
Dr. Arulchelvan Sriram – India
Rotary Peace Fellow – Class 30