“The essence of the nonviolent technique is that it seeks to liquidate antagonisms but not the antagonists themselves.”
–Gandhi (Harijan, April 29, 1939)
The other day I noticed a box of ant bait on a store shelf. In bold letters, it told me that this product DESTROYS ant colonies and so on along these lines. I pointed it out to my friend who saw where I was going with it, and she observed, “The funny thing is that the product doesn’t even actually do that. The ants find it and bring it to their queen. They think it’s delicious.” We pondered why the company selling these baits was choosing to sell us such a violent narrative about their product. What, in other words, are they really selling? Ant bait, or violence? There are very nonviolent ways of dealing with insects that are coming indoors, including sprinkling turmeric around the areas where they enter, or just rerouting them outside with something sweet. Similarly, everyone knows that if there are ants or other creatures in the house where you would prefer they not come, you make sure you aren’t creating the conditions that attract them. Could you imagine a nonviolent ant bait package? It would say something like, “You want to get rid of ants FOR GOOD? How come? They have a useful role to play in our ecosystems. Have you ever learned about the ant?” and so forth. Maybe that would be harder to sell! UNDERSTAND ANT BEHAVIOR! LOOK AT YOURSELF! CLEAN YOUR KITCHEN! How about some turmeric water to spray around entrances?
The point is here that nonviolence, ahimsa, applies on all levels: from the way we think about insects to the way we handle large-scale conflict. Why, for instance, do we approach the environment and our ecosystems in the way the military handles terrorists? Why do we sell it to ourselves in that way? DESTROY! KILL! Do we really want a violent culture? If we could only shift our vision to understanding the conditions we create that encourage so-called antagonisms, we wouldn’t need to concern ourselves with trying to change our so-called antagonists. The environment itself would encourage transformation.
Experiment in Nonviolence:
Notice how we use violence, even when it’s ineffective, to sell innumerable products. Notice how this extends from the smallest, seemingly insignificant product to drones and fighter jets