“Like Disciplined Soldiers”–Daily Metta

February 2

Soldier-Gandhi-Boer-War-1899-2“There should be no mistake. There is no civil disobedience possible, until the crowds behave like disciplined soldiers.”

–Gandhi (Young India, 8-25-1921)

Gandhi, to the surprise of many pacifists, participated indirectly in several war efforts, including Indian recruitment for World War I, feeling that since he had appealed to the Crown for redress at times, he had no right to abandon Britain at her hour of need. Through his experiences,  he came to have a deep admiration for soldiers.  His admiration was not naive–it was certainly not for the sanctioned murder they perform or the politics they espouse; rather he admired the organization, discipline, restraint and courage the soldier must ideally cultivate. He dreamt of the power of an organized form of resistance, as prepared, trained and disciplined as an army, but based on nonviolence. Gandhi also had a strong sense that soldiers were the perfect audience for the message of nonviolence. To be nonviolent, we have to be courageous: we have to renounce the violence of which we know we are capable.

Simply avoiding violence or running away from it has no power–renouncing it does. For this reason, Gandhi maintained that it was not until the crowds saw themselves as disciplined soldiers– capable of violence, yet willing and able to restrain themselves from using it, and organized in a way that put their restraint and discipline on display– their civil disobedience would not deploy its full power.


Experiment in Nonviolence

When you feel that you are “too violent” to become nonviolent, consider Gandhi’s message for today.



Daily Metta 2015, a service of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, is a daily reflection on the strategic and spiritual insights of Mahatma Gandhi in thought, word and deed. As Gandhi called his life an “experiment in truth,” we have included an experiment in nonviolence to accompany each Daily Metta. Check in every day for new inspiration. Each year will be dedicated to another wisdom teacher.