“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” 

Mahatma Gandhi

Today is International Day of Non-Violence, created to honour the memory of Gandhi, who fought for civil rights through peaceful means, on what would have been his 151st birthday.

Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence, has been the inspiration for non-violent movements for civil rights and social change across the world. Throughout his life, Gandhi remained committed to his belief in non-violence even under oppressive conditions and in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

This commemoration is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. General Assembly’s resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.

What is Non-violence?

Non-violence is both a principle and a practice. The principle of nonviolence affirms the active use of non-coercive and non-aggressive means to create a more peaceful context. It is based on the assumption that justice will eventually prevail, that choices should be made from a place of love rather than hate, that the hurtful action, not the person, should be subdued and that voluntary suffering has value as an important facet of life.

In practice, nonviolence involves actively peaceful behavior in the midst of conflict, becoming an example of consideration to those around us and breaking the destructive cycle of retaliation when we believe we have been wronged. It also means awareness of our own inner violence, and eliminating its negative effects upon our own intentions.

Applying these principles of non-violence can reduce conflict, anger and violence on personal, local, national and global levels.

Countless are the examples of activists that through the years have utilized non-violent methods to spread their message.