Non violence is a term used to describe social movements which aim to create social change through non violent methods. It is closely linked to pacifism but non violent methods may be used by those who don’t consider themselves pacifists.
Leading exponents of non violence include:
Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian independence movement
Martin Luther King and the US civil rights movement
Dalai Lama – Leader of the Tibetan Buddhists in exile
The philosophy of non violence often has a religious and spiritual basis. An significant proponent of non violence was Leo Tolstoy who based much of his philosophy on Christian Philosophy. Leo Tolstoy and Christian teachings played a significant role in influencing Martin Luther King, in particular the Sermon on the Mount such as “Love Thy Enemy”
Mahatma Gandhi recognised the influence of many religions in shaping his non violent strategies. As well as Christian ethics he also believed the teachings of Hinduism and Jainism led one to a stategy of promoting peaceful means. Mahatma Gandhi used the term “Ahimsa” when referring to non violent struggle.
Non violence also has a strong tradition within Buddhism. Recent Buddhist teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh have emphasised a philosophy of peace and loving kindness