Resurgence and Ecologist magazine is now in its 50th year, and its evergreen chief editor Satish Kumar is in his 80th year. In the May/June 2016 issue he reminded me of the significance of MK Gandhi’s concept of satyagraha, which can be roughly translated as non-violence, but in an active way that refuses to submit to wrong or co-operate with it in any way, with a dedication to truth. This is similar to the reasonably successful approach of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in USA.
Satyagraha is open to the criticism that it relies upon a high standard of ethical conduct in the evil opponent, and demands too much of those involved in the struggle.
Satish points out that modern warfare is essentially illegal under the Geneva convention, in that it cannot avoid causing the death and destruction of non-combatant civilians. All wars are counter-productive. Who could argue with this after the experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria?
He makes a strong case for a UN resolution to abolish wars and establish a strong diplomatic process to avert them in future. It is this that would need to provide the necessary counterweight to an evil party that did not abide by ethical norms.
What could be the problem? Except those ‘sovereign’ countries that think they should be answerable to no one outside the country. And most recent wars were started by members of the so-called security council, often with a nod from the others. And, of course, those still with a Middle Ages mindset – fixed minds that think their approach is right and everyone else is wrong, so their terrorism is justified.
It’s never easy.
See Resurgence Magazine.
Featured image of a statue of Martin Luther King in Polanco, Mexico
by Diógenes el Filósofo, via Wikimedia Commons