Here’s a question that Gandhi must have had posed many times: What should a person, a movement, institution or society do when they are confronted by nonviolent or even violent resistance? His answer, in brief: Be patient with obstruction. Understand why it is happening and begin to address the root cause of the conflict. Anything else would be short-lived at best and ineffective at worst.
Here is Gandhi’s full quote:
“It is an unshakable faith with me that a cause suffers exactly to the extent that it is supported by violence. I say this in spite of appearances to the contrary. If I kill a man who obstructs me, I may experience a sense of false security. But the security will be short-lived. For I shall not have dealt with the root cause. In due course, other men will surely rise to obstruct me. My business, therefore, is not to kill the man or men who obstruct me, but to discover the cause that impels them to obstruct me, and deal with it.”
Gandhi is telling us that obstruction can be an opportunity for reflection on, or a clearer understanding of, the root causes of a situation. Take time to look to root causes the next time you read about or are in a conflict.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org