For those who believe in nonviolent methods for social change, Jan. 30. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on that day in 1948. He was the inspiration for many movement leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Vaclav Havel.

While facing the rise of the likes of ISIS, al-Qaida and various factions of the Taliban, both government and the people seem to be on edge. A fitting answer to these violent groups has become the cry of the day. One frequently hears phrases like “counterattack,” “boots on the ground” and “neutralizing the enemy.” Billions of dollars are being spent on defense and security; not only in the U.S. but all over the world, countries big and small are doing the same. They are spending billions of dollars to arm themselves to the teeth. On the one hand violent groups, independent of any given state, are crazy with their random murderous actions in random. Others, on the other hand, answer them by bombing and killing selectively, often causing collateral damage and killing innocent people. In this swirling of violence on both sides, does nonviolence have a chance to succeed? Can nonviolent non-cooperation work against ISIS, as it did with Gandhi against the British in his native land?

To begin with, the British Empire represented institutional injustice against its colonial subjects. ISIS and al-Qaida, however, are bandits without the formal recognition of a state. Their rise and fall depends on the cooperation of people in the areas where they operate.

When Gandhi asked his countrymen to rise against the British, he worked on both sides of the conflict. He asked his people to remain nonviolent but unafraid in refusing to cooperate. He also appealed to the better sense of the Britons to support the nationalist movement in India. Many intellectuals and many Quakers supported Gandhi. During World War II, when the British were vulnerable, Gandhi did not make a pact with their enemies as some of his countrymen wanted. It took more than 30 years of struggle to achieve India’s Independence.

Since the 1990s, al-Qaida has been terrorizing the world. Now ISIS has taken a page from its mentor. The world so far has spent 25 years and billions of dollars’ worth of arms and munitions to remain safe. Dismantling and destroying them is nowhere near. The Jihadists on their part are willing to continue the war with the enemy for a thousand years. In order to save their souls they are ready to sacrifice their heads. This sort of mindset can hardly be answered by military action. First, the Jihadists grow out of a particular situation. That situation has not changed. Therefore, after one batch of Jihadis are killed, another batch replaces it seamlessly.

In this scenario, people within the affected area — the area controlled by the Jihadis — have to resist them. Their non-cooperation in this case will work or it won’t; nobody knows. But the stigma of cooperating with the evil will be gone. Right now, from outside, others are fighting for their rights. Should they fight, outsiders will be helpful.

Both civilians and soldiers are being killed in the war against terror. Even if the same number of people were killed because of passive resistance to an evil regime, the loss will be much less. Nonviolence can be used as a deterrent as well as a tool for defense. However, there is a difference between a constitutional monarchy such as the United Kingdom and a ragtag group of armed men called ISIS or al-Qaida.

Anadi Naik

writes from Mount Airy.

(16) comments


Anadi,beautiful letter! Some of the responses are typical of the benighted ones. Raising the Collective Consciousness is the answer. I know this will prick the ire of the mundane,but it is the Truth that cannot be explained. We See with what we See with. The members of the "Church of Clint Eastwood" cannot understand.


There will always be a segment of any population that will not be led by good example alone. We might be able to win some of the terrorists over with love, but some have hearts that are too hardened. That is why we must have a strong defense.


Nonviolent methods to defeat ISIS, Al Q, or Islamic Extremism?

Who, what, when, where, and why?

Maybe we can have our progressive liberal think tanks travel to the Middle East, and teach the same gun control and social engineering that seems to work so well in the major US cities that Democrats rule -- Rahm should go first.


We have a tendency to pigeon- hole everyone. Nonviolence is not exclusively a "progressive think tank" concept if it is even a progressive think tank idea. i do not think a drift towards pure socialism or the abuse of entitlements is a good for our Government so I guess I could be branded - conservative. As a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ i am a strong advocate of non violence. It is not always possible but a method that should always be considered. Beyond that I believe in the Divine concept of "love your enemies." Without that, non violence could never work. Impossible, maybe. But I still hope there is a large segment of our population that have similar beliefs and do not fit into black and white classifications.


Christians have turned their proverbial cheeks in the Middle East while the world watches, and our lame President Obama seems to draw red lines and pay billions to Iran.

Think fast -- "kill them all; God shall sort them out" This isn't Ground Hog day, this is the reality of a dumb down population that forgot why we fought and won WWII, and more recently the first Gulf War.

But, hey, actions speak louder than words, yet this President is more concerned about gender equality in the military than letting our military destroy the enemy.


I think you echoed some of the writers concern. My reply to you dealt with stereotyping. Realistically i think Teddy Roosevelt's quote "Walk softly but carry a big stick" serves the United States security well. But walk softly means you don't constantly chant "kill them all." And that is not just a liberal think tank idea.



Hmmm . . . methinks you missed my point: those who do not learn history, are condemned to repeat the mistakes . . . let the crusades begin . . .

Shall we carve up the proverbial Middle East, create safe zones, fortify and protect the innocent? Yes! and then bomb the living s*** out of those that do not want to live in civilization.

“Kill’em all, and let God sort’em out” is adopted by the Marines and the Green Berets. I think it derives from “Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoset”, or “Kill them all. God will know His own.”. This was a misunderstood reference to 2 Tim. 2:19 which in part reads, “The Lord knoweth them that are his”. I think this comes from around 1210AD, when Pope Innocent III unleashed “orders of fire and sword” against heretics throughout Europe. In this process there was a terrible massacre at the city Beziers, where it was thought that over 100,000 people were killed. After that city where taken, they had captured over 450 “heretics”, but many of them claimed to be good Catholics. The quote is believed to be first used here, when they killed all the “heretics”. It did not matter if they killed good people, because if one led a godly life, God would know of it, and the reward would be eternal paradise anyway.

This was actually said by Arnaud-Armaury, the Abbot of Citeaux, the Papal
Legate. Though his exact words are not known, the latin equivalent, “Neca ecos omnes. Deus suos agnoscet.” (“Kill them all, God will know His own.”) was recorded by a monk who was present at the time. The Abbot had been asked by the military commander of the crusade, one Simon of Montfort, Earl of Leicester, how best to deal with the heretics. He complied readily, and so the crusade was carried out for twenty years.


I am not sure I missed the point. Past practices of the church, especially the history of the Catholic church in the Dark and Middle are well known. I believe in this day and age we are fighting a new crusade, in Jerusalem, and the Middle East which has, in turn, created groups like ISIS. That is contrary to the Gospel and America's original conception of our military to be used strictly for defense. The forefathers cautioned against a standing army. With preemptive wars and nation building we have entered into a new form of colonialism. But all this strays from the writers point for consideration of non violence which I believe is not solely a liberal/progressive viewpoint.


Well said jsklinelga


jsk, to some extent I agree, but anyone and any nation must be ready to defend themself from aggression of those that would take away our liberties. No, I do not mean gun control, that is mixing apples and oranges.


For what good reasons? Gun control and social engineering have little to do with non violence. It would take another Martin Luther King Jr. to do that. He knew what real non violence means and it has never been easy.


One day i will learn how to post a thumbs up. Thumbs up! Until another MLK surfaces let's hope there are an abundance who believe his path is worthy of emulating.


jsk, when you post a response you will see Emotions above it. Click on it and it will open up all sorts of signs, Just click on the sign you want and it will appear in your comment.


[thumbdown] @ gary4brooks:

Yes gary, there are many failed liberal policies that have their root cause in social engineering and gun control . . .

But, hey, go ahead and keep a few of those rubber balls nearby and practice -- you make the same false assumption about firearms --

Firearms are a very good deterrent to violence -- think for a moment about the Navy Yard in DC, San Bernadino City, and a military recruiting office in Kentucky . . . no firearms for the good guys to deter the Islamic Terrorists --


Anadi, we do have to help the people to be able to free themselves, but we should never determine for them what is right, it needs to be their decision.


Yes. Nonviolence can win. However, it can also be slow and expensive. In a time of "instant results" people can lose patience and it can fail.

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