Non-violence: a capacity for change


Non-violence is a human capacity to change the violent reality, at the individual, group or society level. It encloses a theory, an ethics and a practice, which are concomitant and interrelated.


1.     The non-violence theory


1.1  Among the world’s creatures, man is the sole absolute value.

1.2  Each human being, group and society has a primary right: to be considered as an absolute value, an aim by itself -and not a means- and an acting being not an object.

1.3  Everything that affects negatively a human being or group, as an absolute value or an acting being, well as all what affects negatively one of his main values: identity, uniqueness, safety, freedom, independence, morality, growth, complementarity, equality with others, etc. shall be unacceptable violence or injustice. These values are the main rights that stem from his primary right and which give birth to his other rights.

1.4  Every man, even if he is the subjective or objective reason behind violence and injustice, have a conscience and is still capable of changing his judgments and behavior, and thus the unjust reality of which he is taking advantage.


2.     The non-violence ethics


2.1  Everything that is contrary to the human being or group must be avoided or eliminated in the religious and civil fields, as well as in the social, economic, political and cultural domains.

2.2  Everything that is compatible with human beings or groups can and should be done, if possible, when its negligence provokes an adverse result.

2.3  Some of the reality aspects (relationships, business, structures, laws and status quo) are obviously contrary, violent and unjust toward human beings, groups or societies and thus should be avoided.

2.4  There are some other ambiguous aspects that do not  obviously show whether they are compatible or not with the nature of human beings, groups or societies, and need to be analyzed in order to determine their true characteristic, to be ultimately accepted or refused. These aspects can be classified into three categories: for, against or with the others. The last one is the less ambiguous and the most compatible with a non-violent society.

2.5  A fair cause does not justify in any case unjust or violent means.


3.     The non-violent behavior


3.1  Non-violence is of two kinds, negative and positive


–         Negative non-violence restricts itself to the abstention of carrying out any violent action or of making any violent relationship with human beings, groups or societies. This kind of violence matches with traditional ethics.

–         Positive non-violence is the one that organizes a human being’s relationships or activities in order to eliminate any violent aspect directly related with him.


3.2  Positive non-violence stems from the total respect of man as an individual, or within a group or society. It is a real praxis and an action for change, that is, a series of activities that gives birth to a capacity capable of transforming a violent and unjust reality into a fair and non-violent one without resorting to any unjust and violent means.

3.3  The non-violent action encloses a technique capable of being efficient against violent forces; although it is not very known and carrying it out is rather difficult.

3.4  This technique encloses three steps: preparation, struggle and evaluation


3.5  Preparation


Double preparation: self-preparation and objective preparation


Self-preparation encloses the following:

–         Knowing the non-violence theory and ethics

–         Training oneself on negative non-violence with everybody

–         Learning positive non-violence and its technique

–         Practicing this technique in some small-scale cases of injustice

–         Being conscious that serious practice of non-violence may provoke a violent reaction that can lead to jail or death

–         Accepting beforehand the abovementioned possibility and its consequences, after being prepared to it.

–         Preparing the body and the soul to face these consequences in order to overcome fear.


Objective preparation encloses the following:

–         Forming one or many self-prepared groups.

–         Analyzing collectively the elements and reasons of oppression

–         Being conscious of the collective plan

–         Clarifying the elements of the alternative fair reality and the practical proposals related to them

–         Elaborating a collective struggle plan enclosing the appropriate measures

–         Analyzing the appropriate measures to make sure that they are not violent

–         Making sure that the projected political concessions do not include ethical ones and that they are not contrary to the non-violence theory and principles.

–         Coordinating and cooperating with the different bodies that strive to influence the unjust reality


3.6  Struggle


The non-violent struggle is to achieve on the ground the elaborated plan. It may include escalating non-violent means in strength, compatibility and efficiency. These means can be grouped in two types: the oral and practical awakening 


3.7 Oral awakening particularly includes:


–         Dialogue with others on the cause of violence (in a conscious or unconscious way, objectively or subjectively) before, during or after the work, in order to explain the aims and motivations.

–         Dialogue with the people that are subject to violence

–         Informing public opinion or at least the related sector in order to reinforce its awakening and make it participate in the moral pressure on the persons that cause violence.

–         Declaring the truth about the violent reality in face of the person that causes it, without exaggeration, omission, or hatred, in a calm and loving way – in a funny way even -, according to the reality and without considering one’s sayings as the absolute truth, in order to awaken the others and without judging persons but actions, structures, laws and situations, and with the acknowledgement of contributing to the unfair reality. The group shall include at least a representative of those who suffer violence and one of those who know how to express themselves about it clearly and caringly.

–         Claiming achievable change, based on the social analysis and practical proposals.



3.8  Practical awakening particularly includes:


–         Marches with movements and actions that communicate with senses, hearts and minds.

–         Silent marches, or with slogans and songs

–         Sit-ins

–         Hunger strikes (individual or collective, symbolic or permanent)….until before the risk of death

–         Strikes (limited or not).

–         Economic, social and cultural boycott

–         Pacific resistance or abstention within the law

–         Civil disobedience or outlaw abstention but within genuine justice and non-violence.


4. Values


There is a necessary practice that accompanies the non-violent struggle and action, that is, the evaluation of one self’s health and the absence of any violent default in him.

This evaluation will not be detailed in this booklet but during dialogues.


About Author

باسل عبدالله - مسؤول تحرير مجلة تواصل مدني

Comments are closed.