Monday, May 23, 2011

Quid Pro Quo Non-Violence

Only a few weeks back, I had an argument with a friend of mine on the issue of global demilitarization and disarmament. Sensing my proclivity towards non-violence, he was quick to draw my attention to the home brewed problem of Indo-Pak relations. He asked me whether I truly believe that a non-violent solution is possible in the event of an Indo-Pak war. He questioned me on how, I suggest to tackle terrorism. My reply was somewhat brusque. I said "Fortunately, I don't share the feeling of animosity some of my countrymen have towards Pakistan and Pakistanis. I don't believe counter violence is a solution to violence."

To this effect I shared with him, an analogy, which I felt best described the global situation at hand.

It is as if we are standing with guns on each other's temples. The questions that really haunt us both: Who and when? Then suddenly I decide that I have had enough and decide to put my gun down. well, yes of course there is the possibility of you blowing my brains out. But my death was imminent even with the gun up. At least now, there is the possibility of survival. I can now expect the same behavior from you as I have been kind enough to spare your life. Can't I? No wait. How is that possible? I'm the saintly one and you are the devil. You will never spare me. I won't either. And the gun is back up. Or what reason do I have to believe that you are very different from me? That I am the one who abjures violence and you condone it? We both had guns pointed at each other even a while back. Why is it that I am driven to believe that you are intrinsically violent and I am not? It is possibly because I am too. If I can drop my gun, so can you just as you can pick it up when I do.

Ultimately we believe we are not so different when it comes to violence, but seem to think the diametrically opposite when it comes to non-violence. Why this non-homogeneity in our thought process? If we widen our ambit, it is quite clear that we are all on the same page where violence is concerned. It is quite likely that we will still be on the same page as far as non-violence goes.