International Day of Non-Violence

International Day of Non-Violence - Wednesday, October 2, 2024

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Today we celebrate the birthday of a man who helped bring forward the notion of “non-violence,” and the tremendous impact this form of social response has had all over the world in the last century. On the International Day of Non-Violence, created by the United Nations in 2007, we look back on the influence of an Indian activist born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but known the world over as Mahatma Gandhi. The International Day of Non-Violence honors how Gandhi’s work and legacy has impacted global,  non-violent protest.

The UN has good reason to use Gandhi’s birthday to celebrate International Day of Non-Violence. Gandhi’s commitment to India’s independence and his methods have been the cornerstone of civil and human rights initiatives all over the world. Put simply, Gandhi saw it as completely irrational to use violence to achieve peace, but rather, “just means lead to just ends.” This is a lesson we can all take to heart.

This world has seen its share of bloody wars that ended countless lives and filled many more with grief. No matter what country you go to, there are stories of how someone’s greed or lust for power resulted in the killing of innocent people and the destruction of beautiful cities. Even wars that were fought for a good cause, like the Civil War of the United States of America, that resulted in slavery being abolished, have been responsible for a great many deaths.

Fortunately, however, there are people in this world who have gone about making the changes they thought necessary without violence or pure brute force, and these are the people that the International Day of Non-Violence celebrates. No matter where you live, there’s no denying that a day celebrating non-violent ways of making a statement and bringing about change is long overdue, and that these peaceful strategies for fighting injustice more than definitely deserve their own day.

The History of the International Day of Non-Violence

The International Day of Non-Violence is observed on October 2nd in honor of the birthday of Mahatma Ghandi, one of the most influential political activists of all time. Ghandi used nonviolent civil disobedience to eventually overthrow the British, who ruled India at the time. Despite being thrown in jail numerous times, but nothing ever caused him to abandon his peaceful approach, which eventually resulted in India finally gaining the independence they’d wanted for years.

The independence of his country was not the only issue Ghandi found important, however; he was also keenly interested in building good relationships between people of different religions and ethnicities, expanding women’s rights, and reducing the amount of poverty. Even though he was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist in 1948, he has never been forgotten, and is called “the father of the nation” by most Indians.

On June 15th, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly voted to make the anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi’s birth the International Day of Non-Violence. The day is mostly dedicated to spreading the message of non-violence to as many people as possible in all countries of the world.

How to Celebrate the International Day of Non-Violence

One of the best ways to honor Mahatma Ghandi’s life and achievements, as well as those of other world leaders who have won their battles without violence, you could choose one of these people and read their biography—find out what motivated them to act as they did, what helped keep them strong even when they saw terrible things happening all around them.

Such people include Civil Rights activists Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, Beatles star John Lennon, humanitarian activist and “King of Calypso” Harry Belafonte, and of course anti-apartheid movement leader Nelson Mandela. The life stories of each of these people is fascinating and inspiring. If you have children, this day could be the perfect time to teach them the virtues of bravery, compassion, and perseverance.

Children can be cruel to one another, so it is important to instill strong feelings of right and wrong in your children in hopes they will become good, strong adults and worthy successors of the people mentioned above. Children are, after all, the future, and the people who will shape history. However you decide to observe the International Day of Non-Violence, make sure you do what you can to honor the bravery and goodness of people like Mahatma Ghandi and carry on their legacy.

How to Observe International Day of Non-Violence

  1. Read up on Gandhi

    Gandhi was one of the world’s greatest and most influential leaders in the last century and there’s plenty we can learn from him. Here are two of his most beloved quotes. “There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for.” “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

  2. Find or organize an event

    The UN hosts official events around the world to commemorate the resolution of 2007, but there are also innumerable events on Gandhi’s birthday dedicated to celebrating the life of the leader. Or, if there is a particular issue close to your heart, use this day as an opportunity to take non-violent action to make your voice heard.

  3. Go for a random act of kindness

    The concept of Random Acts of Kindness has taken off with the rise of social media, as the beneficiaries of RAKs often post their gratitude for the stranger online. Today, make Gandhi proud by going out of your way for a stranger, simply to brighten their day. Pay the toll for the person in the car behind you, leave a positive note with a friend, clean the snow off a stranger’s windshield — the possibilities are endless. So today, in the words of Gandhi, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Why International Day of Non-Violence is Important

  1. It raises awareness

    The term, "non-violence," has been used so often in the last century that its meaning has taken on new forms. Often believed to be a synonym for pacifism — which it can be — it’s also been adopted by groups around the world to be a force for social change, rather than strictly opposition to war. Through education and awareness, the UN hopes to share the many forms of non-violence that we have today.

  2. Non-violence is a proven method for social change

    "Non-violence" is a broad umbrella term under which there are several categories. Non-violent actions include protests, marches and vigils, which were successfully employed in the 1960s to bring about social changes in America. Non-cooperation and non-violent intervention, such as blockades and sit-ins, were also successfully used in America to demonstrate further inequalities. All of these efforts led to the peaceful spread of ideas.

  3. There are plenty of conflicts to solve

    Globalization has given us a more productive global economy but it’s also led to more complex issues that need solving. To help keep these problems from escalating to violence, spreading the ideas — and success stories — of nonviolence will be crucial.

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