Bring truth to your adversary nonviolently!
A Gandhi Vow
“I promise to love my enemies, to reject violence (of heart, tongue or fist), and to use only the methods of nonviolence in my search for TRUTH and in my confrontation with UNTRUTH.
The citation with the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded Dr. King after his assassination reads: “Martin Luther King, Jr., the conscience of his generation, a southerner, a black man, he gazed on the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down.”
What kind of love has that kind of power? When Jesus instructed his disciples to love their enemies, he didn’t mean romance them (eros). He didn’t even mean befriend them (philia). He meant to love their enemies as God loves them (agape). But what is agape love? While reading the “Sermon on the Mount” Gandhi, a Hindu, discovered the secret a love powerful enough to end British tyranny.
Given the blood stained, war-torn history of Christianity, Jesus’ words have not been taken too seriously at least not very often. Gandhi took them seriously. In fact he built much of his entire nonviolent protest movement on those Sermon on the Mount passages including. “You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say unto you resist not evil; Whoever forces you to go a mile, go two miles with him; Love your enemies; Bless them that curse you; Do good to them who hate you; Pray for them who persecute you.
For Gandhi that kind of love defines nonviolence or nonviolence defines that kind of love. If our enemy is also a child of the Creator, a member of our same human family, our brothers and sisters in need of reconciliation, doesn’t it make sense to respond in ways that de-escalate the hatred through that powerful agape love? Gandhi does not suggest we sit back and love our enemies from a distance. His agape love, his nonviolence has the courage to confront our enemies and their untruths by loving them. His agape love rejects physical, spiritual, and mental violence. Dr. King put it this way: “No
violence of the fist, tongue or heart.” King studied carefully the principals of Gandhi’s nonviolent love and adapted those principles to our countries struggle for civil rights. Practical examples follow.
Is it possible for you to “love your enemy?”
Can you confront the lies of your enemy with truth alone and without violence of the heart, tongue or fist?