International Day of Non-Violence today
ISLAMABAD: International Non-Violence Day is being observed under the banner of United Nations (UN) today (October 2) – the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), who led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedoms across the world.
The UN desiring to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence invites states, UN bodies, regional and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as individuals to commemorate the day through educating ordinary folks on significance of the day.
The world we live in looks very different from before. It is a world where no nation can claim to be safe, free from the winds of insecurity. Globalisation, with all its good and evil effects, is perhaps the most important catalyst for the rapidly changing equation of world politics.
The history of non-violence is perhaps as old as the history of violence. Man’s quest for peace has always been there. Therefore, non-violence has no grammar; there are no fixed rules for non-violent practices. It comes from within.
If violence is a part of man’s nature, so is non-violence. Gandhi developed a unique style of non-violent action, which is still a source of inspiration for the peace-loving people around the world.
Use of violence to attain political goals continues, while the conflict resolution mechanism has radically changed. Now we have global institutions, which are contributing to peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building.
The UN, in spite of its limitations, is still a symbol of hope in a world of despair. With the decision to observe the International Day of Non-Violence, the UN has given the much-expected recognition to non-violence.
According to a Human Rights Commission Report (HRCP), every year in Pakistan incidents of burning of women, domestic violence, kidnappings, merciless killings resulting from sectarian and ethnic violence and cases of sexual harassment surface. Non-violent practices of an individual and that of a society are complementary to each other. A culture of nonviolence can only be made sustainable when each individual and the society he lives in facilitate it.
It is not argued that everyone will have faith in non-violence. It is very natural that some will not like it due to difference in perception. Non-violence, as a strategy, was often rejected and criticized by many, basically on the grounds that violence is a necessary accompaniment to revolutionary change and that right to self-defense is fundamental.
Whichever side of the coin one chooses to look at, violent means cannot ensure a sustainable peace. To achieve a good end, means should also be good. A fragile peace is no peace at all.
We don’t know what change we will be able to bring about by merely observing only one day in the whole year as ‘World Non-Violence Day’. Let us join hands for a better and safer world for ourselves and for the future generations.
To practice non-violence, all we have to do is to understand what non-violence really is. What changes it can bring and how we can apply it to our personal, social and global life.
There is a saying, ‘No creation is possible without imagination’. Let’s start imagining a peaceful world. Let’s say no to violence.
The UN Secretary General Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gave the following message in connection with the day: “The International Day of Non-Violence marks the birthday of one of the doctrine’s leading voices Mahatma Gandhi. “Non-violence”, Gandhi said, “is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind,” said Ban Ki-moon.
“We, at the UN, strive to harness the power of non-violence to overcome prejudices, conflicts and cultivate mutual respect and understanding among peoples and countries. Indeed, the creed of non-violence echoes through the UN Charter,” he said.
“We work every day to bring these lofty principles to life. We do this by promoting human rights, seeking to resolve conflicts through peaceful means, campaigning to eliminate violence against women, working to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and building bridges across cultures and countering hatred and extremism everywhere,” he added in his message.
“This work cannot be left to governments or international organisations alone. Peace may be achieved around the negotiating table, but it is sustained around community tables,” he said adding, “Peace starts with people — it flows from the hearts of committed women and men. Communities, families and individuals all have a critical role to play in defeating violence and creating a culture of peace.”
“On this International Day of Non-Violence, let us work together to use the great force of non-violence to build peaceful and just societies for ourselves and for our children,” the secretary general concluded.