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World-Day of Nonviolence: A call for peaceful resolutions

The International Day of Nonviolence is not only to commemorate the birth of Mahatma Gandhi but also to celebrate the timeless principles he upheld, says António Guterres, the UN Secretary-General - values that include fairness, respect for others, and the effectiveness of nonviolent protest.

By Sr. Titilayo Aduloju, SSMA

Globally, each year, the International Day of Nonviolence is observed and celebrated on 2nd October.

It is very important as a day to create awareness about the significance of nonviolence and its role in promoting peace, harmony, and unity worldwide.

Nonviolence is a powerful instrument for bringing about change, both at the individual and social levels.

It has the power to lessen people's rage and aggression, fostering individual development and peaceful interpersonal interactions.

Our world is full of violence

Pope Francis in his message on the 50th World Day of Peace said, “Violence is not the cure for our broken world.”

He believed that violence is a result of massive resources being diverted away from the daily needs of children, families facing hardship, the elderly, the infirm, and the vast majority of people in our world in favour of military goals.

“Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all,” the Pope said. 

Guterres, for his part, has said, “Our world confronts grave challenges: growing inequalities, rising tensions, proliferating conflicts, and worsening climate chaos.”

“We also see divides deepening within countries – with democracy under threat and hate speech and intolerance on the march,” he affirmed.

He believed that we can overcome these problems and steer the world towards a happier, more peaceful future.

Pope Francis' support for nonviolence

 “Let us make nonviolence, both in daily life and in international relations, a guide for our actions,” Pope Francis said during an event marking the 60th anniversary of Pacem in Terris in April 2023.

He also encouraged all of us to “pray for a greater diffusion of the culture of nonviolence, which involves the lesser use of weapons, both by States and by citizens.”

Pope Francis therefore called for a culture of active nonviolence in our daily activities.

“Living, speaking, and acting without violence is not giving up, it is not losing or giving up anything, but aspiring to everything,” Pope Francis said.

Even in self-defense situations, peace is the ultimate aim, and permanent peace can only exist without weapons, Pope Francis remarked.

Pope Francis calls for culture of peace
Pope Francis calls for culture of peace

Significance of World Nonviolence Day

The 2023 commemoration of International Nonviolence Day is to educate and create public awareness,

The event seeks to spread the message of nonviolence while reinforcing the goal of a society that is characterized by peace, tolerance, understanding, and nonviolence.

The spread of the message of nonviolence across the world is one of the day's main goals.

It emphasizes the value of peaceful resolutions and inspires people and communities to use nonviolent methods of conflict resolution.

It is also to encourage and teach young people to acquire the skills needed for peaceful dispute resolution.

The promotion of a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding, and nonviolence is encouraged by the International Day of Nonviolence.

International Day of Non-Violence
International Day of Non-Violence

There is a need for peace in our world

Mahatma Gandhi described non-violence as the "greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man".

Thus, nonviolence should not always be interpreted to mean submission, abstinence from action, or apathy, but as a principle that rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. 

According to Gandhi, “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”

The UN Secretary-General advised that we should heed the wise counsel of Gandhi today as we observe the World Day of Nonviolence and reaffirm our commitment to this crucial goal of promoting global peace.

Chatting the forward

“If we understand – as Gandhi did – that the magnificent diversity of our human family is a treasure, not a threat,” said Guterres.

According to him “If we invest in social cohesion, nurture the courage to compromise, and the determination to cooperate.”

Nonviolence will therefore mean that we ensure that everyone has the chance to live lives with dignity, opportunity, and rights, regardless of status, background, circumstance, or faith.

The UN Secretary-General concluded by reminding us of Gandhi’s wise counsel: “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”

The International Day of Nonviolence was unanimously proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in June 2007. The resolution placed a special focus on raising public awareness and spreading the nonviolent message.

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02 October 2023, 15:38