–Gandhi (Mahatma, Vol. 7, p.30)
In his nonviolence classic, Courage in Both Hands, late Quaker activist Allan Hunter tells the story of Mrs. Pean-Pages, headmistress of a girls’ school in Paris during World War II. She had been hiding 25 girls, and one day a Gestapo officer came to her door saying that he had a list of their names, and he demanded that she hand them over.
Before I tell you what she did, think about what you would do. Would you decide to lie? Would you just give up?
Mrs. Pean-Pages did neither, and this took a great deal of courage and faith. She recalls first of all praying–“What can I do to maintain my values in this hopeless situation?” She knew that the officer was not lying to her–he did have their names. So she decided to do something counterintuitive to her fear: she admitted that it was true, that she was hiding 25 children. “But,” she added with marked anger in her voice (because you can be angry *and* nonviolent), “You knew for some time now that they were here and it is only now that you are coming to take them away. I will tell your superiors about this!” (I mean, wow, this took some guts…) The officer confessed that she was right, and then did something amazing, himself: he asked her not to say anything to anyone about it and turned away and left. And no one returned for the girls, either. She had saved their lives through her audacious, nonviolent courage, and maybe, we can admit, the Gestapo officer also did his part.
Experiment in Nonviolence:
Consider Mrs. Pean-Pages’ story and describe in your own words what happened, and how nonviolence worked.
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.