Gandhi Team statement
We are a group who came together during a tumultuous time in our country. Our interests were around avoiding the violence that difficult times often lead to. We engaged in deep study of nonviolence, shared what we had learned in several workshops, and organized teams to monitor and ensure peaceful protests.
We are disheartened that the assumption underlying the mainstream opinions on both sides of the political spectrum is always that there are only two sides to choose from. Furthermore, mainstream opinion holds that violence must be met with counter-violence. This has been particularly true regarding the Ukraine-Russia war and the Israel-Palestine war. As we write this, there are 32 armed conflicts in the world right now. We find ourselves unable to condone one side and condemn the other. What we see is a seemingly unending cycle of violence that leads to death and suffering on all sides. The latest war began with the barbaric slaughter of Israelis at the hands of Hamas, followed by over 24,000 deaths of Palestinians as Israel responded, at least half of whom are women and children, who have been oppressed and displaced for many years. There is no such thing as a just killing, a just war, or an acceptable collateral damage in the form of civilian casualties. The amount of suffering and deaths from all the current and past wars cannot be claimed as victory of any kind. The demoralizing presence of violence affects all of us, not just the parties at war, and derails the hope for a kingdom of peace. We condemn both sides who promote violence as a solution. We boldly call for not only a ceasefire, but an end to the violence from all parties, and a commitment on the part of our government and all governments to allow Ukrainians, Palestinians, and Israelis to live securely with mutual recognition of their right to exist.
There is a third way, the power of nonviolence, that can lead to peace and justice without robbing us and our opponents of human dignity. Its principles apply equally to interpersonal and global struggle. In fact, nonviolent civil resistance was proven twice as successful as violent campaigns in a study of all conflicts worldwide between 1900 to 2006 (Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan). It worked against British oppression in India, against apartheid in South Africa, and for civil rights in the US.
Could it work in Ukraine? Could it work in Gaza? The answer is a resounding yes! (See There are nonmilitary alternatives to Israel's war in Gaza by George Lakey). We have learned just how profound it was when Jesus told his followers they must love their enemies. Regardless of what you may believe about who Jesus is from a religious standpoint, spend some time to understand this profound philosophy that centers on loving your enemy and yourselves. Learn how to talk and listen to your opponents and enemies.
And it's not only that it can work, it's also that it must.
"It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world: it’s nonviolence or nonexistence; that is where we are today." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
As members of the Gandhi Team, we invite you to learn about nonviolence with us and to find hope in a world that seems increasingly hopeless. This third way is a new story, a path toward personal and structural transformation that heals, instead of wounding, (Roadmap — The Metta Center for Nonviolence).
We will be offering recurring opportunities for you to join with us to learn and engage in creative nonviolence.We are hosting two initial meetings at Casa de Clara, 318 N 6th Street, San José, on February 3rd and February 17th from 9:30 am to 11:30 am to talk about this. See the EventBrite invitations below and join us.