Meekonomics and Non-Violence

Non-Violence is possibly the least understood pillar of my theory of Meekonomics so let me take a minute to expand upon what I  mean here.

Often times when I speak of non-violence or more accurately, pacifism, it gets confused with passivism and I am accused of not caring about the plight of the weak and down trodden.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The push back from just war or just violence theorists almost always begins the same way, “but what if _______”, fill in the blank with whatever outrageous scenario you can think of.

What if I had a gun to your head?

What if I had a gun to your child’s head?

My honest answer is always the same; I don’t know, I’ve never been faced with any of these situations and I likely never will be.  It is for that reason that I do not condemn the choices people make when faced with an impossible dilemma.  But the bottom line here is that pacifism and non-violence are not the same as sitting on the sidelines and letting people get away with evil and disgusting acts.

Pacifism has been called the weapon of the weak.  Perhaps the most famous pacifist of the last century was Mohandas K. Ghandi.  At the risk of oversimplifying history, Ghandi over threw perhaps one of the most powerful empires in the world and led India to independence without firing a single shot.  Passive resistance and civil-disobedience, when deployed carefully and committed to fully are powerful weapons against which there is no defence.

When a stronger party enters into conflict with a pacifist the result is often and long and drawn out war of wills in which the weaker pacifist simply wears the aggressor out by refusing to play their game.

For example:  My high-school basketball team was regarded as one of the best in the province.  When we got the championships we were the heavy favourite and we would have won handily had it not been for a quirk in the rules set out by the Ontario Federation of Secondary School Athletics (OFSSA).  You see, since teenagers aren’t expected to be as accurate at shooting as college or NBA players, there is no shot clock at the high-school level.  Knowing this, when ever our opponent got control of the ball, they simply passed it around for as long as they could and ran out the clock.  As a result my school ended up losing one of the lowest scoring games in OFSSA history because our opponents were pacifists and simply refused to play the game the way everyone, referees and OFSSA brass included expected them too.

Pacifism in war, as in basketball games, renders offensive weapons meant to force submission, useless.  While at first it may look like the stronger party has won a decisive victory with minimal casualties, over time they end up looking like bullies.  That’s when the  power shifts and pacifist slowly but surely begin to gain the upper hand through the court of public opinion.  I dare say that no aggressor in history has ever won a long war against a large group of pacifist.  They may be driven underground for a time but by taking a posture of passive resistance they never have to surrender.

It took years, but Ghandi defeated Great Britten.  After renouncing violence and spending decades in prison, Nelson Mandela defeated white rule in South Africa.   The student protests in Tiananmen Square began a program of economic reform in China that we are only now beginning to see and understand.  And the Arab spring, now summer, with the exception of civil war in Libya, looks a lot more like a pacifist uprising than it does a violent transfer of power.

A commitment to the principles of Meekonomics is a commitment to support the way of non-violence and pacifism as it reflects the will of the people and influences world affairs.  “No blood for Oil”, indeed no blood for any commodity is the rally cry of the meekonomist.

1 Comment

  1. I am hoping to read the autobiography of Ghandi shortly. It is incredible and inspiring how often pacifism actually is effective. I appreciate John Howard Yoder’s stance that it is not because it is effective that we embrace it, though but we feel it is simply what Jesus has called us to. The reality is if the opposing power simply kills all of the pacifists they will not win. Sure, another group might step in but it is still difficult to see this as a ‘win.’ In some ways I see political pacifism as separate from Christian pacifism because there is a different driving force behind Christian pacifism than viewing it as a tool to accomplish a goal. It sure is nice when it works and you don’t get killed, though!

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