Civil Disobedience: Daily Metta

“So is the capacity for civil disobedience acquired after one has disciplined oneself in complete and voluntary obedience of the laws of the land.” ~ Gandhi, Harijan, March 17, 1946

Civil disobedience is a conscious and strategic form of non-cooperation with an unjust law, followed in a civil and nonviolent manner. Gandhi contrasts it with “criminal disobedience,” which would mean violent non-cooperation, undue property destruction, using non-cooperation to arouse fears, resentments and hatreds, making the rift between opposing sides wider instead of bringing people across differences closer together. Once we’ve understood what “civil” means in relation to disobedience, Gandhi reminds us of two more criteria to make it effective: it is to be the fruit of self-discipline; and it requires conscious choice. In a truly democratic society, one cannot be coerced into any behavior, including obedience to laws: it has to be freely chosen. If one, upon reviewing the laws, finds a given law to be unjust, it becomes one’s duty to resist it for the sake of conscience.

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About Daily Metta

Book cover imageStephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence.

Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide.

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