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Violence is a problem that we as humans deal with everyday. Today, it seems that we deal with it in just about every aspect of our lives. From children’s cartoons to the nightly news, we are witnesses to its power and harm. Violence is not new by any means though. It is something that can be traced back to the beginning of time. It is for this reason that I believe that we must all take on a nonviolent, “Satyagraha” type of life, as did a man named Mahatma Gandhi. In turning to nonviolence, we would essentially refrain from inflicting damage or injury and use alternative means to obtain a desired end (which in this case is peace). According to Gandhi, “Satyagraha” was the soul-force power of truth and love and these are two things that our society is in dire need of. Violence needs to be replaced with a method of truth and love because if violence continues to rule our lives, people will know nothing but violence and our world will continue to live in chaos.

Truth needs to replace violence because truth is the basis of everything. Truth unfolds on a daily basis through intuition, experience, observation, conversation, informed judgment, being questioned while questioning, reflection, and quiet listening. Truth is love; truth is friendship; truth is compassion; truth is family; truth is fear. Truth means “Satya” which is derived from “Sat,” which is existence. Everything that exists is contained in Truth. Truth is a matter of experience as well. It is what the voice within tells us. Speaking Truth alone is not sufficient, though. One should be truthful in word, thought and deed. Truth is the basis of morality. If people are not truthful to themselves and to each other, there would be no trust among our society and even worse, more and more violence would result from our actions. Another term that was used widely by Gandhi was Ahimsa. Ahimsa or non-injury, of course, implies non-killing. But, non-injury is not merely non-killing. In its comprehensive meaning, Ahimsa or non-injury means entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word, or deed. Non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth, and hand.

Love should also replace violence because without love there would be no compassion, no friendships, and no families. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the term loves means any strong liking or affection. This means that we must all learn to like one another and live in peace with one another so that we can continue on as a society. If we let violence rule our lives, eventually there will be so much hate in the world that it will be impossible to live. It is vital that people love one another or else we could not exist. There would be so much hate and violence in the world that we could end up eventually killing each other off. Loving everyone and everything is possible. When you were young, I’m sure that everything was pure to you and you had a liking for (almost) everything. Even if you were one of those children who were very self-centered and spoiled, you had some sort of remorse for when you did something wrong; your conscience seemed to always get a hold of you. As soon as you grew up though, and were able to make decisions on your own, that mentality disappeared. You started rebelling and getting out of control and forgot what your heart was like when you were little. Children are able to love with an open mind, so why is that we as adults can’t? Why is it that we teach our children not to hate, and to love one another, but we don’t honor those values as adults? What we need to do is go back to when we were young and take those morals and values and apply them to our lives as adults. Right now, it is very hard to “go back” and try to be like what we were when we were young, but if we had been educated on Passive Resistance before our formal education, I think it would be much easier. Gandhi says in his essay that “Passive Resistance is the noblest and the best education. It should come, not after the ordinary education in letters of children, but it should precede it. It should not be denied that a child, before it begins to write it alphabet and to gain worldly knowledge, should know what the soul is, what truth is, what love is, what powers are latent in the soul. It should be an essential of real education that a child should learn that, in the struggle of life, it can easily conquer hate by love, untruth by truth, violence by self-suffering” (447). The term Satyagraha works for love as well because part of Satyagraha is self-suffering. People do not just suffer because they want to, it takes passion and love. To take someone else’s problems as your own, and suffer for them, takes more courage and love than any kind of violence ever could. The aspect of suffering for someone else is best said by Gandhi in this quote, “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”

Some people believe though that to try and replace a method (violence) that we have known for centuries would do more damage than the outcome (nonviolence) itself. In an essay written by Michael Nagler, he states that people are not going to accept a new way of doing something and that “to moderns, nonviolence (and especially the older spelling, non-violence) does not sound like a phenomenon existing in its own right. We have had our backs to the sun of nonviolence for so long that we cast everything about it into the shadow of our own negative thinking” (515). With this, Nagler is telling us that for as long as we can remember, violence is what “sells.” Violence is all over the media, in images in magazines, even on the news. People see violence everywhere they look. Because violence is everywhere, it is not surprising that people like violence and they accept violence, so to accept anything else (as an entire society) would be wrong. He also associated nonviolence with negativism, which shows how our society has been raised and taught to think. People who stand up for themselves and use violence are seen as patriotic, which in America is a positive thing. Our mindset is that if someone harms us, we have the right to take revenge, and possibly harm them back. Our society is so focused on “getting back” at each other that we forget to see what harm comes out of our decisions. If someone decided that they wanted to use a method of nonviolence however, they would be looked down upon, and seen as having a negative behavior. Not many people want to be looked at as an outcast or traitor, so they are going to go with the “norm,” in this case violence, to stray from those labels. However, this mindset needs to go. People need to start realizing that nonviolence is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of courage. To be violent takes no intelligence, but to be nonviolent takes more intelligence and self-suffering than anything.

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Although the process of nonviolence will probably be destructive because it will not be accepted right away (and people will probably do things to act against nonviolence, in turn causing more violence), the outcome will still be greater, and this is what today’s society neglects to see. They are too consumed with the aspect of trying to change instead of looking at what the future of nonviolence could bring. Too many people are afraid to step outside of the box and do something that might question authority or cause some tension. But this is what we need. We need people to stand up for what they believe in so that our world can live in peace. Gandhi once said, Of course, critics reasonably argue that non-violence pictured by me is not for the masses of mankind, it is possible only for a few highly developed persons. I have combated that view and suggested that, given proper training and proper leadership, non-violence can be practiced by the masses of mankind (Ed. Gandhi by Thomas). Here, Gandhi is talking about how nonviolence on his level is not going to work with “the masses,” but there are ways to have everyone practice nonviolence on a smaller level. Nonviolence can amount to people not flipping someone off because they were cut off, or cussing someone out at the grocery store. If our society started practicing nonviolence with these simple acts, eventually we would be able to work up to nonviolence as an answer for everything. Everyone has to power to make themselves heard, you just have to work at it. As seen in the past by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King jr. and many others, it is possible to make a change. It might take some time, but everything takes time. Living in a world where people’s actions and thoughts are based on truth and love is worth risking a few things instead of living in a world full of hate and fear.

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