"We have been told for many generations that America is the Superpower; it is way beyond all other countries of the world in monetary and military strength, but it has yet to prove to the world that it can be a Superpower in terms of its moral strength."-- Arun M. Gandhi
Is nonviolence a wuss thing? Not at all! It's a profit-producing vehicle for muscling up our American economy as we provide a safer, more stable environment in which our children can thrive. Actually, it takes more courage and strength to find peaceful solutions to conflict than just hiding behind a weapon and trying to blow the disagreeing person or society away. And, though profits from weapons are astronomical, peaceful productivity is cheaper in the long run in terms of safety, stability and advancement of our society.
Peaceful productivity, including international conflict resolution through diplomacy, will also return our long-lost respect globally; thereby increasing our strength in the global marketplace.
Violence includes war, domestic shootings, verbal abuse, contact sports and socioeconomic deprivation (poverty).
If we had been more socially advanced, instead of racking up debts of $1.3 trillion-to-6 trillion from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and allotting the world's largest military budget, $712billion, we could have applied those funds and related jobs to education, infrastructure, technology, job creation and such with a much better comprehensive ROI (return on investment) than the $550billion profit the weapons industry gained for the 1% alone, apart from the two wars, in just 2007 alone,.
However, although the 1% did profit, their humanity was diminished by the costs of war. More than two million military personnel have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 711,000 of them have used taxpayer-funded VA benefits, with innumerable vets still waiting for the bureaucratic muddle to clear so that they can also access the benefits they have earned. Six thousand military personnel committed suicide in 2009 alone.
Military families are broken, marriages are strained, returning warriors are broken - maimed, dead, with potentially violent long-term mental wounds -- often leading to addiction, homelessness and joblessness and sad as all that is, it is also indicative of the sick society we have become.
And, on the domestic front, we have also become a war zone. In one recent week in the United States, we saw fatal shootings in a theater, grocery store and a middle school. Yes, another school. A school shooting every two weeks since Sandy Hook. War and domestic violence, contact sports, poverty are all forms of violence. Sure, the weapons industry is hugely profitable for a number of people but, in terms of societal productivity, it's disastrous. And it isn't only guns.
Our culture of violence is also fed by our addiction to contact sports such as football and boxing, with increasing numbers of concussions and other injuries. The exorbitant salaries of professional athletes often cannot sustain them once careers are finished because, comparatively uneducated, they may be left with lifetime medical expenses, little opportunity for employment because of lack of training aside from athletics and, chances are, they have spent their money.
Said Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, "One thing I'm absolutely certain about is that we are on a course of destruction. We're destroying our humanity, we're destroying our earth, we're destroying everything."
Speaking in Augusta, GA at the seventh annual Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Worship Service, presented by the Progressive Religious Coalition of Augusta (PRC), Arun Gandhi went on to say, "Though we claim to be the most civilized nation in the world, I don't think we are. No civilized nation can behave the way we do; where children are killed and guns are used by children. The things that go on here are, not only savage, they're inhuman."
"People will follow me in life, worship me in death, but not make my cause their cause."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
Why wouldn't they make his cause of nonviolence (peaceful productivity) their cause? Because they haven't been given a compelling enough reason to do it. That is the missing component to the nonviolence issue.
As we move into more sophisticated times we can see that, while weapons and war are profitable for only the 1%, in terms of economic and social stability peaceful productivity is more advantageous for us all, today and in the long run.
For the wealthiest of our society, it is important to realize that our children and grandchildren may not be able to continue whatever advantages we may leave them, in terms of capital and an education of entitlement. Despite our best efforts to provide for their successful futures, it is impossible to predict what will befall them in the twists and turns of their lives, and how they will respond -- and that should be an incentive to consider adjusting our attitudes toward society in general.
Arun Gandhi, founder of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence said, "A lot of people today, particularly politicians, tell us we can build all the armies, we can build all the weapons of mass destruction, and we can protect ourselves and our nations. And that is nonsense. No country, no matter how rich or how powerful it may be, can survive if the rest of the world is going down the tube. We will all go down with it."
"Our survival and stability depend on the survival and stability of the whole world," Arun Gandhi continued. "We are all interlinked and interconnected, and we have to have that vision that we have to change this whole world, we have to help the rest of the world to have a better standard of living. It is only when we are able to do that, will we be able to create peace in this world. Otherwise, we can work for peace until doomsday and nothing is going to happen."
Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world today, the United States has dropped from No. 82 to No. 88. And on the world happiness index, the United States is only No. 17. Maybe dominance and wealth are not the be-all and end-all. According to Mr. Gandhi, "There's more to life than just making money. Life is about how we impact the world around us; we need to look beyond ourselves, and how we affect the whole community."
Maybe, by utilizing the various non-violent strategies for global conflict resolution -- leverage through economic sanctions, diplomacy, relieving social ills in order to increase GDP and, therefore, increasing profits for the 1% and others as well, we are seeing that at least a small measure of increased safety and stability results. When we have tried diplomacy, in at least two countries we do see a glimmer of hope:
Northern Ireland - after 25 years of bloody violence based on aggression, retribution and more aggression, Sen. George Mitchell helped to negotiate a cease-fire and agreement through economic incentives, not sanctions. The cease-fire is still holding, sometimes shakily, 16 years later.
Iran - As Israel continues to shake its fist at Iran and a number of American lawmakers push for even more crippling sanctions the Obama Administration, with a coalition of six other world powers, have combined sanctions and diplomacy to negotiate a six-month trial of cooperation, coincidentally beginning on Martin Luther King Day, in which Iran has agreed to scale down its nuclear enrichment program and allow for meaningful daily inspections.
In the long run, nonviolence is more powerful than violence because it leads to effecting social progress, not just bashing people into submission. In a culture of violence, society tends to wither; whereas, in a safe, peaceful culture society overall thrives; the economy grows stronger and more robust and, should we choose peaceful productivity, America stands to regain its former position of respect and global leadership. Trade and employment flourish. Most important, however, if we decide to change our focus, will be that America will assume a position of leadership in creating an atmosphere of peaceful productivity, and global moral leadership.