Friday, September 19, 2008

“ Christ gave us the goals and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics.” — Martin Luther King Jr, 1955

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi


Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its corruption and lawlessness...Every citizen is responsible for every act of his government...There is only one sovereign remedy, namely,non-violent non-cooperation.

Whether we advertise the fact or not, the moment we cease to support the government it dies a nature death....

My method is conversion, not coercion, it is self-suffering, not the suffering of the tyrant....

I hope the real Swaraj (self-rule) will come not by the acquisition of authority by the few but by the acquisition by all of the courage to resist authority when abused. In other words, Swaraj is to be attained by educating the masses to a sense of their capacity to regulate and control authority....

Civil disobedience is the assertion of a right which law should give but which it denies...

Civil disobedience presupposes willing obedience of our self-imposed rules, and without it civil disobedience would be cruel joke....

Civil disobedience means capacity for unlimited suffering without the intoxicating excitement of killing....

Disobedience to be civil has to be open and nonviolent....

Disobedience to be civil implies discipline, thought, care, attention...

Disobedience that is wholly civil should never provoke retaliation....

Non-cooperation and civil disobedience are different but [are] branches of the same tree call Satyagraha (truth-force)....

Coercion cannot but result in chaos in the end....

One who uses coercion is guilty of deliberate violence.

Coercion is inhuman....

Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good...

Nonviolent action without the cooperation of the heart and the head cannot produce the intended result....

All through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall, always.


posted: Saturday 12:47am 20 September 2008


jrajster said...

The problem with our leaders as remarked by Zaid, is their unwillingness to change for better all in the name of race and religion.

Even the wisdom of Ghandi would be something unacceptable to our Malaysian leaders as Ghandi is non-Malay and non-Muslim.


Anonymous said...

The son of a regional official from the Indian region of Gujurat, Mohandas Gandhi read Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience while he was studying law in London. Gandhi resonated with Thoreau’s ideas, and agreed with Thoreau that people had a right to disobey unjust laws. However, he considered such action a last resort, and felt a great respect for the law.

After graduating, he accepted a position to work for an Indian law firm in South Africa. The discrimination against non-white people in the country horrified him – he himself was thrown off a train for refusing to move from first class (for which he held a legitimate ticket) to third class, and later in the same journey was beaten by a stagecoach driver for refusing to travel on the footboards to make room for a white passenger. These events and others like them marked a turning point in Gandhi’s life.

In 1906, when a law passed requiring Indians in South Africa to register, Gandhi began his first exercise in non-violent civil disobedience. He called upon his fellow Indians in South Africa to defy the new law, and suffer the legal punishments rather than resorting to violence. There followed a seven year struggle, during which many Indians (including Gandhi) were imprisoned and flogged, and in some cases shot dead. The public outcry against the South African government’s application of such harsh measures ultimately forced a compromise to be negotiated.

Returning to India, Gandhi began his campaign against the occupation of his homeland by the British Raj. He criticised the actions both of the occupying force, and those Indians who resorted to violence against them. The prevailing view of the British, in common with many colonial powers, was that they were bringing “civilisation to the savages”: this was a difficult preconception to overcome, especially since many Britains were making a lot of money out of ruling India.

Gandhi developed his own philosophy of non-violent resistance which he called satagraha (“grasping the truth”) saying of it: “Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatever.” He rejected the idea that ends could justify means, and insisted that the means themselves must be just. His satagraha philosophy contained many tenets, including nonviolence (ahimsa), truth, non-possession (i.e. poverty), fearlessness, equal respect for all religions and freedom from untouchability – a cultural segregation based on the Indian caste system that Gandhi considered an “inhuman boycott of human beings” and a corruption of Hinduism.

An important development of Thoreau’s ideas was Gandhi’s insistence that it was necessary to develop discipline, and to co-operate with the State and its laws as a prerequisite for resisting: “[it is] only when a people have proved their active loyalty by obeying the many laws of the State that they acquire the right of Civil Disobedience.” Thus even when disobeying a law in an act of non-violent resistance, it was important that other laws were appreciated and obeyed, otherwise activists could simply be dismissed as criminals or anarchists.

In 1930, Gandhi began a new non-violent campaign against the British, protesting the salt tax which had been enacted in 1882. Prior to the arrival of modern mining equipment, salt was a precious commodity, one that had been responsible for riots and uprising in other countries throughout history. (Before the widespread use of salt in processed foods, it was necessary for everyone to purchase salt, since lack of salt leads to fatal neurological problems). The salt tax greatly penalised the poor, and benefited only the British occupiers.

In March 1930, Gandhi and 78 of his satyagrahis marched nearly two hundred and fifty miles to a coastal village, to defy the salt tax and make his own salt by boiling salty mud in seawater. Tens of thousands of people turned out to greet him on route, and he gave dozens of interviews en route, making him a household name in Europe and the United States. Fully expecting to be arrested upon his arrival at the coastline, the British chose not to take action. On the morning of the 6th April 1930, after a morning prayer, Gandhi raised a clump of salty mud in one hand and announced: “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.”

Encouraging others to make their own salt illegally, the British Raj ultimately imprisoned some 60,000 people in response. It was one of Gandhi’s most successful campaigns in upsetting British rule. In 1931, the British negotiated with Gandhi for suspension of the civil disobedience movement in India. However, Indian independence was still a distant possibility, and the outbreak of World War II further complicated matters.

After intense discussions with various Indian leaders, Gandhi declared that India could not support a war that was ostensibly about democratic freedom while that freedom was denied to India itself. Thus began the Quit India movement, during which Gandhi and his followers were repeated arrested, and Gandhi himself suffered repeated assassination attempts. When World War II ended, Britain was forced into the realisation that the age of the British Empire was coming to a close and, having required other nations to relinquish their territorial conquests, finally acceded to granting India its independence.

Unfortunately, the withdrawal of the British allowed other tensions in India to surface, in particular cultural conflicts between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. Indian Muslims favoured partition so that they could have their own nation; Gandhi was vehement that they should remain one nation. However, he was unable to resolve the crisis, and convinced by his colleagues that partition was the only way to avoid an outright civil war, eventually acceding to the partition that created Pakistan as a separate nation. The partition created further tensions between the new independent states of India and Pakistan, and these tensions ultimately cost Gandhi his life at the hands of a Hindu extremist in 1948.

By demonstrating the tremendous power of civil disobedience, Gandhi changed the way the world viewed resistance – for perhaps the first time, non-violent action was taken seriously as a political tool. Influenced by Thoreau’s earlier writings on civil disobedience, and inspired by his own beliefs as a Hindu, Gandhi offered a new view of the relationship between religion and ethics - one that denied the insidious idea that religion could justify inhuman actions. As he wrote in 1921: “As soon as we lose the moral basis, we cease to be religious. There is no such thing as religion over-riding morality. Man, for instance, cannot be untruthful, cruel or [unrestrained] and claim to have God on his side.”

Gandhi’s philosophy of satagraha was to have tremendous influence throughout the world, and in particular stirred the heart of a humble Baptist minister from Atlanta, Georgia, who was destined to change the United States of America as radically as Gandhi had transformed India.

Next week: Martin Luther King, Jr.

December 13, 2007 in Serial | Per

Anonymous said...

Leaders must live and die for democracy.

When political parties exploit the strong arm of the law against their opponents, democracy comes under siege.

The sequel of political events that have seen various statements and warnings being dished out by enforcers and guardians of law, in no uncertain terms desecrates the rule of law and the fundamental of democracy.

When political party survival takes precedence over nation building and harmony, democracy comes under siege.

What good will it serve Malaysia when we fail to honor, respect, support and collaborate upon the outcome of a general election that is claimed to be free and fair?

What good will it serve in the democratic interests of the citizens of a nation when leaders and political party wigs take a libertarian approach in ensuring the survival of their party interests at the expense of national integrity?

What good will it serve the much respected and revered monarchy of a nation when despite the royalty's repeated and wise reminders, politicians persist with their antics of divide-and-rule strategy for the sole purpose of party survival and self interest?

Let not this young nation walk the slippery slope that some third world nations have fallen into owing to misguided democracy.

Let not this promising developing nation we all love and will die for, be robbed of its democratic fundamentals that gave it meaning 51 years ago.

Politicians must stop their preaching and rhetoric.

They must start listening to the democratic right of its citizens.

Politicians must stop placing their party politics above a nationhood that has democracy as its cornerstone.

The nation of people give political parties the space and meaning to serve democracy. Politicians must serve the democratic nation of people and King and not demand that the electorate submit to the narrow political interests.

But when all roads lead to a dead end, it might just be too late for democracy to resuscitate.

The price that other fallen nations are paying has to ultimately be borne by the commoner.

We must therefore stop this war on democracy.

Politicians and leaders must remember that the rakyat's will to die for one's country in defense of its very democracy on which its independence is founded will prevail if politicians continue to be deaf, dumb and blind to fundamentals of democratic values and principles.

Leaders please find your 'Golden Mean'. Cooperate, collaborate and support the outcome of the general elections and get back to work in that spirit of democracy for you have already squandered six months.

J. D. Lovrenciear

Anonymous said...

Only the brainless will use brute force to subdue the people. This act of brutality was practice by the evil rulers of the past. In this present time, people's power is stronger than the sword. Let participate with determination and faith in Civil Disobedience to topple the the cruel and unjust UMNO led govt. Without the wheels, the cart will be useless. Believe in ourselves and trust our LORD.

chong y l said...

anon @4.37AM Sept 20:

I like your "essay" here and wish to reproduce at my Blog along with Sdr Bernard Khoo,mGf aka zorro, masked or un-!:) Drop me a line, poem also can, at Tks Z 4 using you as Posman:)
PS: Z, pls pass my XoXo to catZjones; only dime i enjoy whisky, but not in te company of Eat, Drink and Be Merry erswhile billionaire, now bankrupt if Trth be pursued?

PathmanCK said...

Lincoln repeatedly said that the right of revolution, the "right of any people" to "throw off, to revolutionize, their existing form of government, and to establish such other in it's stead as they may choose" was "a sacred right-a right, which we may hope and believe is to liberate the world"
The people who represent Pakatan Rakyat and the people who support it are the people who are exercising their rights. This special rights. The same rights Gandhi seeked when he was treated with injustice in South Africa.

Free the country and it's people so that they all can live with dignity and pride. The people are the one who bring upon a revolution. This revolution has a name and it's called keadilan.

Anonymous said...

Civil disobedience today in these United States: pay only $1 on all bills we pay. Collectively, we would tell the Federal Government that we can cut off the cascading wealth of our cumulative tax payments to bail out greedy, failed big businesses.