Once when Gandhi was asked about Hitler, he said we should look seriously at the efforts he was putting forward. It was partly to stress, I think, that violence isn’t “natural;” we have to work hard to concoct the violent world we have today. The dictator did not merely believe in destruction, he acted on it with intense attention and innovation, probably not thinking of anything else the twenty-four hours of the day. Yet he was not invincible. If one person can do this much violence with that amount of energy, Gandhi wanted us to imagine what one or all of us could do with nonviolence. But it will not work if we only believe in it or hope it will prevail: it requires our total attention; the sum of all our energy. It must, as Gandhi said, “be intelligent and creative”: not merely a reaction when something is not going right, but a program for forward movement so violent leaders cannot take us where they want to go.
Fast forward to terrorism today. In the same way that terrorists are recruiting and strategizing, the worldwide nonviolent movement needs to do the same. Draw people away from violent means and be proactive. Offer campaigns, start new collaborations, grow new institutions. Dream of the world that could be possible and never stop working until that dream is realized. Not even while you eat. Not even while you sleep. Be consumed by it. Such a world is possible, but anything so precious requires, necessitates, arduous, earnest striving. Why would it come easily?
Remind yourself today that you are working for a nonviolent world for everyone. This might take more than your own lifetime. Accept that this means it will take all of your effort, even if you do not enjoy the results of your work.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org