image: Wikimedia commons (link).
October 2 is the birthdate of Mahatma Gandhi, born this day in 1869.
Previous posts on Gandhi's life and message include "Mahatma Gandhi and Satyahgraha" which was published earlier this year and which discussed his concept of "soul force" or "love force" as a means of overcoming violence, oppression and injustice.
Gandhi opposed colonialism and imperialism and exploitation using the power of "love force" and nonviolence. As this article explains, Gandhi saw nonviolence not as a passive force but as an active force, declaring:
Nonviolence is the greatest and most active force in the world. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by humanity. When we tap into the spirit of nonviolence, it becomes contagious and can topple empires.
As the previous post on Gandhi and Satyagraha explains, Gandhi understood that oppression and exploitation cannot be accomplished without the cooperation and indeed collaboration of large numbers of the exploited and oppressed. He stated bluntly:
It is we, the English-speaking Indians, who have enslaved India. The curse of the nation will rest not upon the English but upon us.
His understanding of the power of nonviolence removed the excuse (the rationalization and false justification) of those who cooperate with the oppressors and say that they "had no choice" since the oppressors have all the firepower and force on their side, and that resistance is thus hopeless or futile.
In opposition, Gandhi offered a positive force, "truth force" or "soul force," which is even more powerful than violence.
This lesson, and Gandhi's example of courageously and nonviolently refusing to collaborate with oppression and exploitation, are more necessary now than perhaps at any time in history.