“An indomitable will”–Daily Metta

November 16:

gandhi-21“Strength does not come from a physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

–Gandhi (Mahatma, vol. ii, p.5)

While he weighed in at a little over a hundred pounds in his physical body, Gandhi’s spirit was immeasurable. He was living proof that strength was a quality that transcends the body. Muscle is helpful, certainly, but thank goodness, it is not a requisite for nonviolence. (Of this, I am glad!)

Strength means facing seemingly impossible situations constructively, unwilling to abandon one’s faith in humanity. It means not letting violence dictate what you will do, say, or — believe. Such strength is generated in the midst of anger, frustration and sadness by converting those emotions into an active, determined love, even in the face of acts of terror. Here’s what I mean:

In his Christmas Sermon on Peace, Martin Luther King spoke to a community confronted by acts of terror by their own countrymen daily, and from the depths, he stated, “We must never let up in our determination to remove every vestige of segregation and discrimination from our nation but we shall not in the process relinquish our privilege to love.” Now that is strength.

He went on to explain what exactly this would look like in practice:

“Somehow we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponents and say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country, and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, and we’ll still love you. But be assured that we’ll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.’”

This kind of determination, the strength of will and the strength to love, is the only way to overcome violence and terror.

Experiment in Nonviolence:
Take time today to apply Gandhi and King’s words to a current conflict. Do they still apply? (Hint: Yes!)