The background to International Day of Peace and Nonviolence

“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.”

Mahatma Gandhi

You may be wondering, why did we choose October 2nd as the International Day of Peace and Nonviolence ?

Well fellow readers, you are about to find out . First and foremost, October 2nd marks the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

What does this day celebrate?

According to the UN General Assembly, the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution 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 was Gandhi’s theory?

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.

The theory behind his actions, which included encouraging massive civil disobedience to British law as with the historic Salt March of 1930, was that “just means lead to just ends”; that is, it is irrational to try to use violence to achieve a peaceful society. He believed that Indians must not use violence or hatred in their fight for freedom from colonialism.

What can be considered non-violent action?

  • protest and persuasion, including marches and vigils;
  • non-cooperation; and
  • non-violent intervention, such as blockades and occupations.

“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

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