Violence is the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation. The world is ablaze with violence from a variety of causes, such as religious fanatism or lust for place and power.
On a more personal or individualist level, violence follows arguments between persons over something. It may be a quarrel over a piece of land in these days of landlessness. The use of an insulting word may be followed by an attack by the offended party, usually the stronger person starts the violence while the weaker person uses hatred as his weapon against the enemy.
Sometimes it is the weaker, highly incensed party that starts the violence. While some violence is a result of provocation, another violence is just pre-meditated move.
These days you cannot tune to a radio programme without hearing a highly placed woman talking about gender based violence. In most cases, the woman is seen to be the victim. It is advocated that stiffer laws be enacted against wife batterers. Those who say so seem to think laws per se can guarantee greater peace for the wife. They are mistaken. We have to go into the root causes of the violence.
Quite often we learn that a man has beaten or killed his wife because he suspected her to be in a relationship with another man. This kind of offence is very common these days when women and men are said to have equal rights. It is no longer accepted that while a man may have several wives the woman must confine herself to only one man, her husband. If only polygamy is fine so is polyandry. So, it is argued explicitly or implicitly.
Violence of this type can perhaps be reduced using the ageless moral precepts enshrined in the holy books. Wives must respect their husbands, husbands must love their wives. When this is done there will be no grounds for violence in the home.
Someone said that the fact that just because people do not practice their beliefs, have we found it necessary to demolish churches, synagogues or mosques? Instead we still scatter gospel seeds in thousands hoping that some will fall on fertile soil, grow and bear fruit.
Jesus advocated for non-retaliation against violence or provocation. If someone smacks you on the right cheek turn the other cheek to him. He did not literally mean this. He was saying two wrongs do not make a right.
Some people have traced from this teaching the non-violent resistance to oppression that the world identifies with Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior.
At the end of the 19th century Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi went to South Africa to settle a legal dispute between Indian businessmen. For sometime, white lawyers in Durban Natal would not allow Gandhi to practice as a lawyer though he had been called to the bar by an English inn. It was discrimination to be known later as apartheid, Gandhi persisted with his demand. He won the non-violence battle.
It did not take him long to realise that Indians in Natal and Transvaal were being subjected to all sorts of discriminatory laws to prevent them from trading and prospering. He organised his fellow Indians and staged non-violent demonstrations. It was in Durban that he coined the word satyagraha, defeat of evil by non-violent means.
His weapon appealed to African nationalists and Black Americans. To gain independence, African leaders in most British and French colonies made use of the satyagraha, they used civil disobedience.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, Hitler sent his envoys to Gandhi and Nehru and urged them to take up arms against the British promising to grant India independence as soon as the British were chased out. Gandhi refused to use violence though he continued with its speeches “Quit India.” The British had made plans to exile Gandhi to their British Protectorate of Nyasaland, but cancelled the plans when they saw Ghandhi’s pledge not to resort to violence was sincere.
When all is said and done, the maxim is right which states that to guarantee peace prepare for war. To make sure that law and order prevail there must be official tools of force in the hands of the police and defence force.n