Missy Crutchfield & Melissa Turner
Gandhi’s Be Magazine
Nonviolence is more than just protesting peacefully or engaging a useful strategy for conflict resolution. It is a way of life.
When you consider your everyday thoughts, actions, and choices through the lens of nonviolence, it impacts your own life, your community, and the world.
Rev. James Lawson on Gandhi and Nonviolence
Reverend James Lawson was a leading force within the Civil Rights Movement and played a crucial role in organizing the Nashville Student Movement and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Since then, Lawson continues his passion for activism and serves as a university professor.
Lawson says, “What Gandhi, I think, was insisting upon is that nonviolence is an ancient wisdom though the term was never used until the Twentieth Century and [Gandhi] used it… And that it is always connected to strategies and blueprints for change, both in your own life, in the life of your family and your immediate community, and then in the kind of community that you develop that’s the extended family, and then in struggle to make changes.”
The Definition of Nonviolence
NONVIOLENCE noun /nänˈvīələns/ The use of peaceful means, not force, to bring about political or social change. The absence or lack of violence; state or condition of avoiding violence. The policy, practice, or technique of refraining from the use of violence, especially when reacting to or protesting against oppression, injustice, discrimination, or the like. Source: Google Dictionary
Inspiration for Nonviolence
Nonviolence has inspired some of the greatest social movements of all time. The philosophy of nonviolence has activated people around the world to “Be the Change you wish to see in the world” as Mahatma Gandhi said.
Jesus Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount” inspired the philosophy of nonviolence and specifically the lives and work of two of the greatest modern leaders of nonviolence, Mahatma Gandhi who led the Indian Independence Movement in the 1940’s and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who led the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s.
From the ancient scriptures of Matthew chapter five:
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
CLICK HERE to read the entire “Sermon on the Mount” online.
Dr. King once said, “Christ gave me the message. Gandhi gave me the method.”
An important inspiration for the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi was Jesus Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount.” He studied it and the New Testament regularly alongside the Bhagavad Gita. The Sermon informed Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence as a way of life.
Gandhi perhaps would have become Christian, but witnessing the deeply penetrating racism and prejudice of modern the modern Christian church gave Gandhi pause for thought as he strived to live out Christ’s teachings in his own life and the public sphere of political revolution.
The story is told of how Gandhi once visited a Christian church in Calcutta where he was turned away at the door. He was told he was not welcome as the church was for high-caste Indians and whites only. It was this practice of racism, prejudice, and segregation that Gandhi knew was not “Christ-like” and he was turned off to the institution of Christianity.
Gandhi said, “I’d be a Christian, if it were not for the Christians.” And he also said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
However, inspired by Christ’s “Sermon on the Mount,” Gandhi continued to live the principles of nonviolence as he experimented in truth and love the rest of his life, eventually leading the greatest nonviolent movement in modern times. Gandhi led the Indian people to freedom from the control of the British empire through nonviolent means and his philosophy and its practice serve as the touchstone for nonviolent movements and revolution to this day.
For Further Reading:
“Mahatma Gandhi and the Sermon on the Mount” www.mkgandhi.org
“Voices of Faith: Why did Gandhi say, ‘If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian?'” www.kansascity.com
“Gandhi’s Daily Scripture Readings for Peace” www.ncronline.org
“The Sermon on the Mount: A Theology of Resistance” www.sojo.net
“The Weapon of Love: How Martin Luther King, Jr. Became Nonviolent” www.abc.net.au
Leaders of Nonviolent Movements
- October 2, 1869-January 30, 1948 (Assassinated)
- Father of the Philosophy of Nonviolence
- Leader of the Indian Independence Movement
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968 (Assassinated)
- Leader of the American Civil Rights Movement
1947: Preaches his first sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
1954: U.S. Supreme Court rules school segregation unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education
1955: Rosa Parks arrested for violating Montgomery bus segregation ordinance. Dr. King and others begin bus boycott.
1956: U.S. Supreme Court ends segregation on public transportation.
1957: Becomes founding president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Featured on cover of TIME magazine.
1959: Travels to India to study nonviolent teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.
1960: Arrested in Atlanta sit-in.
1963: Writes “Letter from Birmingham Jail” after being arrested in Alabama protest. Delivers “I Have a Dream” speech at Lincoln Memorial during March on Washington.
1964: Named TIME magazine Man of the Year. Attends signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Wins Nobel Peace Prize.
1965: Protestors are beaten during Selma to Montgomery voting rights march. Under federal protection, Dr. King and 25,000 marchers finally reach state capital. President Johnson signs 1965 Voting Rights Act.
1967: Launches Poor People’s Campaign
1968: Leads 6,000 protestors through Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers. Delivers final speech on April 3, “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top.” Fatally shot in Memphis on April 4. Source: National Park Service
Other Champions of Nonviolence
Cesar E. Chavez
His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet
Examples of Nonviolence
Gandhi’s Salt March
The Dandi March, also known as the Salt Satyagraha, began on March 12, 1930 and was a crucial moment in the Independence Movement in India. Taking direct action and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, Mahatma Gandhi led a 24 day, 240 mile march to the sea to produce salt without paying the tax. Over 80,000 Indians were jailed as a result of the Salt Satyagraha. This march influenced the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the American Civil Rights marches of the 1960s. Source: Wikipedia
Montgomery Bus Boycott
The Montgomery Bus Boycott played a pivotal role in the American Civil Rights Movement as a political and social protest against racial segregation on the public transit system of Montgomery, Alabama. The campaign began on December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested when she refused to give up her seat to a white person. Other notable Civil Rights leaders joined in including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Abernathy. On December 20, 1956, the United States Supreme Court ruled Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses to be unconstitutional. Source: Wikipedia
Models of Nonviolence
Metta Center RoadmapMetta Center Nonviolence roadmap-poster-18x24in
Learn more at www.mettacenter.org.
Gandhi (1982) PG—191 min.
Mahatma Gandhi’s first television interview (Fox News MovieTone on April 30, 1931)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. interview: Nonviolence is the most powerful weapon
Gandhi: An Autobiography (1957)
Legacy of Love by Dr. Arun Gandhi (2003)
The Forgotten Woman by Dr. Arun Gandhi (2008)
Grandfather Gandhi by Dr. Arun Gandhi (Simon & Schuster, 2014)
Be The Change by Dr. Arun Gandhi (Simon & Schuster, 2016)
The Gift of Anger by Dr. Arun Gandhi (Gallery, Jeter Publishing, 2017)
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. edited by Claiborne Carson (Warner Books, 1998)
A Testament of Hope: Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. (HarperCollins, 1991)
The Gandhi Rap by MC Yogi
The Course in Nonviolent Living
Want to learn more about how you can apply the world-changing philosophy of nonviolence as a way of life? We invite you to learn more through Gandhi’s Be Magazine’s signature program “The Course in Nonviolent Living.” Change your life and change your world in 66 days.