Gandhi Blog Series #5
Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.
The most difficult problem a moral person comes across maybe how to deal with evil. When faced with negativity, many succumb to the pressure and become part of it. But the one who has vowed to stay away from darkness faces a dilemma.
Resisting evil is a difficult puzzle. Many become intolerant of it and react with violence. Instead of resisting evil, the instinctive response perpetrates it.
So what is the best way to mitigate negativity? Gandhi thought long and hard about this problem and came up with a solution: Non-cooperation.
What is it?
To understand the concept of non-cooperation, one should first know how evil operates. Evil can be anything like an oppressive government, violent ideology, organization or people led by hatred, greed and so on.
At first, evil appears innocuous and many take its side. Fence-sitters and uninterested ones are enticed and bribed. Those who resist are browbeaten or tortured. Thus evil gets enforced.
“Non-cooperation is a measure of discipline and sacrifice, and it demands respect for the opposite views.”
Non-cooperation is total abstinence from surrendering to darkness at any cost. It also involves not responding to negativity with violence. In essence, it sees evil as a disease and hence does not hate nor collaborate with those who are affected by it.
A person has to have the discretion to spot out evil, be morally strong to resist temptation and fearless in the face of torture. Only such a person can practice non-cooperation.
What made Gandhi come up with the idea?
One of the cruelest acts of the 20th century took place in Amritsar, India on 13th April 1919. The high walled garden of Jallianwallah Bagh witnessed the massacre of unarmed protestors under the order of Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer. In the unprovoked shoot out, almost 400 were killed including 41 children and over 1000 were injured.
The evil act shocked the world. Indians rebelled against the British government. Though the incident touched Gandhi deeply, he summoned India to remain calm and refrain from violence.
After long reflection, Gandhi came up with the idea of Non-cooperation movement. In December 1920, the Indian National Congress launched it. Indians resigned from their positions, boycotted government institutions and gave up foreign goods. The country virtually came to a standstill. The struggle took India to the brink of independence.
“The first principal of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.”
Gandhi’s idea of non-cooperation did not confine itself as a political weapon. Like everything with him, the movement was an expression of his spirituality which is deep-rooted in truth and non-violence.
Gandhi never denied the courage and mental strength it took to stand against the forces of evil. His mettle was tested in many crucibles of torture and it was irrefutable that he was ready to die for his ideals. He constantly reminded his followers of the sacrifice needed to make the idea applicable.
Following the Chauri Chaura police station burning incident 5th February 1922, Gandhi realized that his people were not morally equipped to implement his concept. He immediately summoned to stop the movement. But it had gained great momentum nationwide and it was difficult to just stop it just like that. His decision shocked even his close followers. Romain Rolland wrote:
“It was dangerous to assemble all the forces of a nation and to hold the nation panting before a prescribed movement, to lift one’s arm to give the final command, then at the last moment, let one’s arm drop and thrice call a halt just as the formidable machinery has been set in motion. One risks ruining the brakes and paralysing the impetus.”
But Gandhi was sure in his decisions. He went into a fast and vowed not to eat until the last sound of protest has been muted.
Non-Cooperation to Evil
Though the movement met an untimely end, Gandhi realized the social, political and spiritual impact it created. He never gave up the idea and preached it as the best weapon against evil.
In a historical dialogue between Gandhi and the British General about non-cooperation movement
The General said – “You don’t think we’re just going to walk out of India!”
Gandhi replied – “Yes. In the end, you will walk out. Because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians, if those Indians refuse to cooperate.”
In the end, that was exactly what happened.
Non-cooperation and freedom
A moral person feels suffocated in today’s world polluted with negative and hateful ideas. We find it difficult to align with evil and many a time we react violently. Only later do we realize that these outbursts did more harm than good. It is in this context that we find Gandhi’s ideals effective.
If we fearlessly stand against evil without surrender, we can cut firelines and stop its spreading. All we have to do is undo the last thread of hatred within us and never kneel before negativity.
Think about the freedom that comes with non-cooperation with darkness. Some simple actions can evil-proof us and also curb its spreading in society. Ignore the hateful posts in FaceBook, isolate violent political ideas and never let greed drown you.
Let us eradicate evil with non-cooperation as Gandhi envisioned.
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