Over the last few years, the hot topic for news stations has been terrorism, and the responses of various countries towards it. We have been enthralled with dramatic discussions about whether the US will bomb Syria, or whether the UN will authorize military intervention. But, strangely enough, there has been a prominent paucity of information about non-violent counters to the growing Middle-Eastern threat.
Non-violence as an effective deterrent to oppression and violence first gained international renown under the direction of Gandhi. Even now, non-violent organizations within India – like the Shanti Sena – and throughout the world follow the principles he espoused. The efficacy of his methods was proven time, and time again; India’s sovereignty being his crowning achievement. But, his fight was with an empire built upon law and order. The British saw their colonization of India as a ‘civilizing mission’ to bring a ‘backwards’ country into the modern era. Today’s terrorist organizations are built upon a far more radical ideology, and their mission is far less magnanimous than a ‘civilizing mission.’ Despite this, people in the Middle East make an attempt at a peaceful battle against terror. There are some groups – largely comprised of women – which make it their duty to suppress radical thoughts in their communities, undercutting terror groups’ human resources. The resolve of the Syrian people to ignore the battle against al-Qaeda affiliates and the al-Assad regime is also a commendable non-violent effort to undermine terrorist authority. However, the cancerous growth of the ISIS does not lend confidence to these methods.
Even around the globe, non-violent fighting has been successful against fear or hatred generated from discrimination or oppression, not against zealous anger and enmity born of religious indoctrination and severe brainwashing. Gandhi once said that the advances in non-violence would surpass advances in violence; but, the present international situation speaks the opposite. Are the efforts made by war victims at the grassroots level truly meaningful in the fight against terrorism, or has the relevance of Gandhi’s non-violent methods been lost in the face of today’s terrorist organizations?