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Martin Luther King | Mahatma Gandhi (wikipedia)

“Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being,” said former Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi about non-violence. He has stated that non-violence’s home is in one’s heart.

There is a special international day for non-violence. ‘The International Day of Non-violence’ is marked on October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

You might have several ideas about non-violence. Let’s look at the meaning of violence. That will help you to grab the idea of non-violence as well. Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill someone or something is known as violence.

According to that, violence can be spread from small scale to large scale. Now you can understand that non-violence is a peaceful word. It does not recommend forcing, bullying and fighting.

Non-violence should be demonstrated from your behavior. It is a personal practice of being harmless to oneself and others under every condition. Non-violence also has ‘active’ or ‘activist’ elements, in that believers accept the need for non-violence as a means to achieve political and social change. Thus, for example, the Tolstoy and Gandhian non-violence is a philosophy and strategy for social change that rejects the use of violence.

In modern times, nonviolent methods of action have been a powerful tool for social protest and revolutionary social and political change. Here certain movements particularly influenced by a philosophy of nonviolence should be mentioned, including Mahatma Gandhi leading a successful decade-long nonviolent struggle against British rule in India and Martin Luther King’s and James Bevel’s adoption of Gandhi’s nonviolent methods in their campaigns to win civil rights for African Americans.

In Sri Lanka, the situation is different than that. People always talk about their rights than their responsibilities, so they follow various methods to fulfill their requests. As we know, those methods should be more ethical, but unfortunately people follow other ways by holding strikes, riots or protests. When they can’t reach their targets, the next thing that they do is, they try to spread violence. They think that their winning point has not been covered by non-violence. Then they follow a different and more violent track to continue their fight to reach a successful end.

However, they don’t know that the end is dark until they reached it. This kind of situation can be seen in protests very often in Sri Lanka. Finally, they receive many gifts from the police, like tear gas, water attacks and baton attacks. Some people are arrested. People’s aggressiveness and impatience are the startup points of violence. People’s appeals might be fair, but that fairness does not award them a right to spread violence.

Family should be a place where the fragrance of peace can be spread to the world. Then non-violent concept should be there indeed. However, can you see all families following nonviolent methods? Answer should be no, because we are not living in a perfect planet. The word ‘domestic violence’ has come to society today. It is a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Globally, a wife or female partner is more commonly the victim of domestic violence, although the victim can also be the male partner, or both partners may engage in abusive or violent behavior, or the victim may act in self-defense or retaliation.

Sport is a place where we can see unity, but nowadays violence has passed into every sport. People change the competition into battle zone pre-event and post-event as well. We can see that even in Sri Lanka, especially in school big matches.

Election period is another example where you can see news about election violence. Usually number of election violence incidents grow daily in that period. Not only that, when we check and compare about last elections’ violence, those kinds of incidents have increased gradually.

Rules and regulations, acts or laws can be implemented by parliament or other legal related parties. However, people themselves should have self-control and should be an honorable follower of non-violence. Youngsters can be led this way and be exemplary persons who have self-control and obey the laws to make a non-violent country even up to certain level.

Sujan Jayasinghe