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UNNOTICED NONVIOLENCE September 8, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Peace, Social Environment.
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Whatever else may be the case, nonviolence is not an inanity.

The Sanskrit word “ahimsa” is more definitive since it has the same linguistic formation as, for example, asymmetrical. Gandhi, despite the imperial arrogance of the British invaders, came from a culture that recognized and practiced nonviolence. Martin Luther King said:

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which
rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.

In my opinion, and that is all, is that we can draw from other cultures, but most of us will not understand the stories as deeply as our own. In our secularized culture, I suggest that nonviolence is a way of using our brains that mobilized our frontal lobes through compassion. I am not sure why the amygdala and the so-called reptilian brain should be alien to the neo-cortex.

For some, nonviolence is a tactic, a form of theatre, or a political strategy that in turn can be met and mastered by more effective counter-strategies. Uri Avnery records in his article “Dogs of War”:

The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings. A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets – protesters who looked like “ringleaders”. They were killed.

This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent (“terrorist”) actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground.

All in all, during the second intifada 4546 Palestinians were killed, of whom 882 were children, as against 1044 Israelis, 716 of them civilians, including 124 children.

These numbers are reminder of the suffering experienced by both Palestinians and Israelis. That the perpetrators of violence may also be victims is often conveniently ignored, or when it cannot be ignored, denied. How iconic is that the Iranian Government apparently learnt the deployment of snipers from the Israelis. Violence trumped nonviolence, so all is well to confirm that violence is effective and successful – until next time.

In a TED presentation, Julia Bacha asks why the media only seems to pay attention to violence [without understanding the context]- while ignoring nonviolence. She quotes the example of the Palestinian village of Budrus that mounted a ten month long campaign of nonviolence to stop a wall being built across their olive groves.

But perhaps the lack of attention, the control of story, is intentional and nonviolence seems to have worked anyway.

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