Non-violence in its dynamic condition means conscious suffering. It does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil-doer, but it means the putting of one’s whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul and lay the foundation for that empire’s fall or its regeneration.
-M. Gandhi. “148 – Non-Violence: The Law of Our Species.” The Essential Writings of Mahatma Gandhi. Ed. Raghavan Iyer. New Delhi and Oxford: Oxford India Paperbacks, 1990. 238-9.
The Tiananmen Square Massacre happened when I was just a boy, but I still remember it quite vividly. Like a lot of people, this image stuck with me, though for different reasons throughout the years. As a teen and a young man I saw it as a triumph of individualism over the totalitarian state. Now, I see it as the incredible act of a single individual in service of a much larger goal. Not an act of bravado, but one tinged, perhaps, with humility. Of course, there is no way to know, as the individual who stopped that line of tanks is, in all likelihood, dead.
Given the unrest around the world right now, what are the images of conscious suffering that have stuck with you? What are the stories that resonate still? Let me know and I will put some of them up here.
Below are a few images that are rattling around my mind these days.
Women protesting in Michigan in support of a State Congresswoman who was censured for daring to say the word “vagina” during a debate on an anti-abortion law.
Anti-APEC video from Busan in South Korea in 2005… Including the now famous Water Cannon Man.
New York protester arrested crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.
Montreal, QC. The student protests have been widely covered by the media who still want to make it out to be a narrative of greedy students trying to hold on to unearned privileges, rather than a corrupt government trying to do the same thing.
The G20 Protests in Toronto. Many people in Ontario still don’t trust their local police because you never know if the cop you are talking to is the one who took away John Pruyn’s artificial leg and told him because he wouldn’t move, he was resisting arrest.