One day a young man approached Gandhi and told him that someone hit him, and he felt humiliated but did not fight back. Wouldn’t “Bapu” (a term used to address Gandhi, meaning father) be proud of him for his nonviolence? Like a good teacher of his subject, Gandhi challenged the young man, “If you felt humiliated, you should have hit him back; but why did you feel humiliated? If he struck you, that was his problem.”
I like this story because it highlights the difference between passivity and nonviolence. In passivity to violence, we lack a sense of respect for ourselves. In nonviolence, we train the mind to have a strong, healthy sense of who we are and the greatness–and limitations– of our capacities (well… some of them, when we learn how to access them, are infinite, like compassion and love). We know ourselves; we see ourselves as equal — to one another, and to whatever’s facing us — and our actions are the expression of our awareness of our dignity, knowing that the road of violence will ultimately degrade us.
Have you ever confused passivity for nonviolence? Think of a situation where you were passive, and imagine what you might have done differently had you tried nonviolence?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 email@example.com