“In the code of the Satyagrahi there is no such thing as surrender to brute force.”
–Gandhi (Young India, April 30, 1931)
This week, when suicide bombers targeted a busy south Beirut marketplace, an indiscriminate attack on men, women, children, whoever happened to be there on an evening like any other, it was an attempt to express their sense of power. At least 43 people were killed, over 200 wounded. Instead of getting power, the bombers sadly ended their lives with an act of total desperation. But in the midst of violence, a voice of real power emerges. While Lebanon engaged in a day of mourning, (mourning is very important in nonviolence by the way), one community member, Fouad Khaddam, spoke to an international journalist with words that any nonviolence seeker would understand immediately: “They [ISIL] targeted this place because they don’t have any other way to fight us. They have run out of options… They targeted this area because we are Shias. But let me be clear – we won’t be fazed.” (Emphasis mine).
Khaddam is pointing to a powerful dynamic in nonviolence, when violence is used to try to intimidate or force submissive behavior, the people toward whom the act was directed refuse its power over them. As Eknath Easwaran, whom I’ve often relied upon for insight into these dynamics, explains, it is an expression of the kind of power that arises when we neither retaliate nor retreat.
Experiment in Nonviolence:
Where have you seen this kind of courage before and what resulted that you know of?