Nonviolence – What it means

We give below 33 quotations by some of its most eminent practitioners.

Take your time to read and re-read these quotations – then read once again, and perhaps again. Ponder over them and, if you wish, share and discuss with others. It will open up a path to a clearer understanding and vision.

The quotations are placed under five sub-heads – “Yes, Nonviolence”, “Active Nonviolence”, “We Want Peace”; “No to Violence”, and “Finally”.

Q U O T A T I O N S

YES, NONVIOLENCE

“Our planet is dying – both spiritually and physically. Fear, aggression and greed, narrow-minded national interests and immature dominance and control over others is a common theme in most countries. However, there are more and more people who know that life is intimately interconnected, and that we can never be fully human whilst others continue to suffer, and who know that love, justice and nonviolence are the very essence of life.”

Angie Zelter

*

“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

*

“Anyone who thinks war the highest form of struggle, or the means of resolving conflicts, still has a very limited vision of man.”

Danilo Dolci

*

“In a world struggling in violence and dishonesty, the further development of nonviolence – as a force on the streets, in the market squares, outside the missile bases, inside the chemical plants and inside the war industry – becomes one of the most urgent priorities.”

Petra Kelly

*

“We must not allow ourselves to become like the system we oppose.”

Desmond Tutu

*

“I think that once people understand the strength of nonviolence — the force it generates, the love it creates, the response that it brings from the total community — they will not be willing to abandon it easily.”

Cesar Chavez

*

“Nonviolence also means the recognition that the person on one side of the trench and the person on the other side of the trench are both human beings, with the same faculties. At some point they have to begin to understand one another.”

Rigoberta Menchu

*

“In a nonviolent struggle, there is the attempt to change the deeds of the opponent without injuring his existence.”

Amos Gvirtz

*

“I preach nonviolence because it’s the better alternative.”

Jesse Jackson

*

ACTIVE NONVIOLENCE

“We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”

Martin Luther King Jr

*

“The trouble is that nonviolence is so often defined as refusal to fight, and that is the American definition of cowardice. In fact, marching unarmed against the guns and dogs of the police requires more courage than does aggression.”

Jesse Jackson

*

“As a technique, (nonviolence) is not inaction. It is action that is nonviolent.”

Mehboob Desai

*

“Nonviolence is not inaction. It is not for the timid or weak… Nonviolence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.”

Cesar Chavez

*

“If men are not willing to practice the way of non-violence with the same kind of commitment and recklessness of cost or con­sequences as they practice the way of war, clearly non-violence will not work.”

A. J. Muste

*

“In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

*

“The power of nonviolence is not circumstance-specific. It is as applicable to the problems that confront us now, as to problems that confronted generations in the past. It is not a medicine or a solution so much as a healing process. It is the active spiritual immune system of humanity.”

Marianne Williamson

*

WE WANT PEACE

“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. “

Ralph Waldo Emerson

*

“We have failed to offer sacrifices on the altar of peace; thus we offered sacrifices on the altar of war.”

Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel

*

“We desire peace – and that is why we have never resorted to physical force. We crave for justice – and that is why we are so persistent in the struggle for our rights. We seek freedom of convictions – and that is why we have never attempted to enslave man’s conscience, nor shall we ever attempt to do so.”

Lech Walesa

*

“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

A. J. Muste

*

NO TO VIOLENCE

“An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.”

Mahatma Gandhi

*

“The speciality of violence is to create hatred among people and to create fear.”

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (a.k.a. Badshah Khan and Frontier Gandhi)

*

“The use of violence in the effort to overcome injustice necessarily creates new forms of suppression and exploitation.”

Hildegaard Goss-Mayr

*

“What shall we choose? Violence or non violence? …We have to choose knowing that when we are violent to our enemies, we do violence to ourselves. When we brutalize others, we brutalize ourselves. And eventually we run the risk of becoming our oppressors.”

Arundhati Roy

*

“Beware of those who would use violence; too often it is violence they want and neither truth nor freedom.”

Louis L’Amour

*

“Violence sometimes may have cleared away obstructions quickly, but it never has proved itself creative.”

Albert Einstein

*

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent. “

Mahatma Gandhi

*

“In a world of outright aggression and violence there can be no winners.”

Tenzin Palmo

*

FINALLY

“Nonviolence doesn’t always work – but violence never does.”

Madge Michaels-Cyrus

*

“Violent activities breed hatred in society, while nonviolent activities elicit love. Violence is the way of destruction while nonviolence is the way of construction. In an atmosphere of violence, it is enmity which flourishes, while in an atmosphere of nonviolence, it is friendship which flourishes. The method of violence gives way to negative values while the method of nonviolence is marked by positive values. The method of violence embroils people in problems, while the method of nonviolence leads people to the exploiting of opportunities. In short, violence is death, nonviolence is life.”

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

*

“The students I’ve been with these twenty years are looking for a world where learning nonviolence means that we dedicate our hearts, minds, time and money to a commitment that the force of love, the force of truth, the force of justice, and the force of organized resistance to corrupt power are seen as sane and the force of fists, guns, armies, and bombs insane.”

Colman McCarthy

*

“When we face problems or disagreements today, we have to arrive at solutions through dialogue. One-sided victory is no longer relevant. We cannot destroy our neighbors! We cannot ignore their interests! Doing so would ultimately cause us to suffer. “

Dalai Lama

*

“If we will accept the challenge of nonviolent activism with faith, courage, and determination, we can bring this great vision of a world united in peace and harmony from a distant ideal into glowing reality.”

Coretta Scott King

*

Please proceed to “Nonviolence – What it means to me

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About Biju Negi

A writer. Working on small farmers' issues, food and agriculture concerns; and peace and nonviolence. Inspiration - Gandhi and Kabir, the poet.
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One Response to Nonviolence – What it means

  1. Deborah Nightingale (Kenya) says:

    They all strike deeply at the truth. I agree with what they say.

    But it is our leaders, politicians, rulers and enforcers that have to understand the meaning of this. It has to go into our laws (and really, I suppose that is the basis for many of our laws, but…. unfortunately, there are too many exceptions).

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