This post just summarizes the 25 Lessons that are discussed in detail in Mark Kurlansky’s book Nonviolence: 25 Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea … these are not my own ideas, but the reading certainly stimulated me to think deeply about the concept of dealing with conflicts nonviolently, and gave me a enlightening new perspective on human history, especially within the scope of war, peace, religion, and politics.
Below are the 25 Lessons … I encourage you to pick up the book if you are at all stimulated by these concepts. Also, I welcome all comments, especially debate and controversy!
- There is no proactive word for nonviolence.
- Nations that build military forces as deterrents, will eventually use them.
- Practitioners of nonviolence are seen as enemies of the state.
- Once a state takes over a religion, the religion loses its nonviolent teachings.
- A rebel can be defamed and co-opted, by making him a saint after he is dead (e.g. Gandhi)
- Somewhere behind every war, there are always a few founding lies.
- A propaganda machine promoting hatred always has a war awaiting in the wings.
- People who go to war start to resemble their enemy.
- A conflict between a violent and a nonviolent force is a moral argument. If the violent side can provoke the nonviolent side into violence, the violent side has won.
- The problem lies not in the nature of man, but in the nature of power.
- The longer a war lasts, the less popular it becomes.
- The state imagines it is impotent without a military because it cannot conceive of power without force.
- It is often not the largest, but the best organized and most articulate group that wins.
- All debate momentarily ends with an enforced silence once the first shots are fired.
- A shooting war is not necessary to overthrow an established power, but is used to consolidate the revolution itself.
- Violence does not resolve, it always leads to more violence.
- Warfare produces peace activists. A group of veterans is a likely place to find peace activists.
- People motivated by fear do not act well.
- While it is perfectly feasible to convince a people faced with brutal repression to raise up in a suicidal attack on their oppressor, it is almost impossible to convince them to meet deadly violence with nonviolent resistance.
- Wars do not have to be sold to the general public if they can be carried out by an all-voluteer professional military.
- Once you start the business of killing, you just get deeper and deeper without limits.
- Violence always comes with a supposedly rational explanation, which is only dismissed as irrational if the violence fails.
- Violence is a virus that infects and takes over.
- The miracle is, that despite all of society’s promotion of warfare, most soldiers find warfare to be a wrenching departure from their own moral values.
- The hard work of beginning a movement to end war has already been done.
Again… I look forward to comments, either supporting or refuting these points, and I that some of are inspired to pick up the book, as it might be like nothing you’ve ever read before.
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