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What is Tolerance?
Adapted from World Without Violence, by Paul Lansu (as published on gandhiinstitute.org)
Nonviolence is a series of acts of choosing life rather than injury or death - whether physical, psychological, social or cultural.
Nonviolence is in fact very different from what public opinion imagines it to be. To be sure, it makes itself known first in negative guise as the refusal to violence. But this refusal suggests neither weakness nor passivity. Nor should nonviolence be identified with an absolute pacifism or with non-resistance.
Gandhi, the apostle of nonviolence, put it this way: "I would prefer to see India defend her honor by armed force than to see her stand like a coward, watching her defeat without an attempt to defend herself. But I still believe just as strongly that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence." Nonviolence is not cowardice. On the contrary, as Eustave Thibon wrote: "the violent person is simply a coward who pretends to be bold."
Nonviolent action brings the power of love into play in the arena of conflict. Nonviolent action uses only means that promote the well being of all parties to the conflict. Those who act nonviolently seek to overcome enmity rather than to impose their own will on their adversaries.
To the extent that nonviolent action succeeds in any given instance, it changes the situation itself from one of dominance and submission to a state of mutual respect for human rights and active concern for the genuine need of all parties to the conflict.
As Gandhi pointed out, nonviolent action seeks to overcome the enemy and make the enemy a friend.
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