February, 2006
Vol. 5, Number 2
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This Month's Article


How may the principles of Satyagraha be applied to modern political systems to create a politics relevant to current needs and futures hopes?

Many of us were fortunate to witness a time when the visionary warriors of the spirit, Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King fought oppression and injustice non-violently with Satyagraha or Soul-force. They used the “weapons” of truth, harmlessness, and self-sacrifice. They were seeking social change against the seemingly unconquerable adversaries of state power and prejudice. Their campaigns successfully exposed the ultimate weakness of falsehood and injustice upon which the dominant oppressive force was based. The foundations of Satyagraha are beyond religious doctrine and political ideology. Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatever; and it ever insists upon truth.

In a world of cruise missiles and cruising car bombs seeking targets of hate and fear, how can we even consider a superior force based on love and harmlessness? Stealth and torture seem the order of the day as the rats of war run round and round in their cages of hypocrisy. All combatants today, as in the past, have a “godly” purpose. The political culture seems bent on creating distrust and revenge, destroying itself along with its enemies in the name of “righteousness.” Surely it is the extreme of cynicism and lack of faith in the goodness of the human spirit to seek a common ground based on violence. What the cold warriors of the last century called the “balance of power” has morphed in the early days of this century into the “balance of terror.”

We must now see how Satyagraha as strategy for social change can become the foundation of a new political culture and the driving force of public policy and international relations. If we can instill the concept of harmlessness into the political life of nations the power of “Sat” or “truth” will manifest. When facing opposition Satyagraha is a revolutionary force, because “truth” will always expose falsehood revealing its pitiful and destructive struggle to dominate others, rationalize injustice and hide its incompetence. If, however, governments embrace Satyagraha it will manifest as goodwill, pragmatic problem solving and integrity.

While both Gandhi and King were religious figures, they did not rely on “religion” to solve their problems. Their “religious” expression was integrity and humanitarianism — Soul-force. Soul-force is the active search for truth and the improvement of the human condition. Contrast this with our current combative leaders who give lip service to “a culture of life” while practicing war, torture, capital punishment, intolerance, selfish greed, and neglect of human and environmental well-being.

Integrity is super pragmatic. It is at the same time diametrically opposed to the doctrine of “ends justify the means” and “might makes right.” Integrity produces healing and solves problems because the methods used tap the resources latent in people and in nature and give them life. Integrity is change with the cooperation of all resources. It only “fights” with the inherent forces of inertia, and can overpower inertia using the spiritual forces that nurture and transform. The power of integrity is that the means and ends are inseparable so that the goal is realized in the reaching of it. It can change the formula of current political powerbrokers from “might makes right” to “right makes might.” The latter formula is the foundation of Satyagraha or Soul-force.

The safety valve to prevent “right makes might,” being an excuse for narrow-minded religious fanaticism is the test of tolerance and universal respect of diversity. “Right” does not belong to any doctrine or ideology, “god-given” or otherwise. “Right” is revealed if it produces unity, greater love, health and harmony. Any group claiming to be “right” must pass that test. Then they must prove that they can cooperate with others who may have different viewpoints to improve life for all. “Right” attracts people to unite, and is proved by beneficial results; it cannot be forced upon others.

While Gandhi struggled against the colonial oppression of the British Empire, and King struggled against institutionalized racism and bigotry, the current adversaries are no less powerful and resistant. All governments must use Satyagraha as the political strategy to mobilize all resources to fight the battle against illness, hunger, ignorance, fanaticism, greed, environmental degradation, and hatred. All people must become a leader in their own sphere of influence to bring about “Sat.” Integrity leads to harmony, which leads to health, the result of a conflict being resolved. When everyone is oriented towards solving problems non-violently on any level, then we will be on the road to peace and prosperity.

© 2006 Richard Sidy

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Related Articles:

Series on Leadership
Series on Global Consciousness
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?


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Archives 2005
Volumn 4
January: "Standing up for Humanity"
February: "The Wake of Disaster" – a poem
March: "Unity in Diversity
April: "Life is Calling"
May: "Entertainment" – a poem
June: "Thought and Imagination" part 1
July: "Thought and Imagination" part 2
August: "Imagination and Healing"
September: "Malice or Neglect? – Lessons of Katrina"
October: "Protecting Children"
November: "Intelligent Design or Evolution?"
December: "Building with one hand, destroying with the other"
Archives 2006
Volumn 5

January: "Conflict, Harmony, and Integrity"
February: "Satyagraha or Soul-force and Political Change"
March: "I Know I'm Not Alone - Wisdom of Michael Franti"
April: "Human Programming and Conflict Part I"
May: "Human Programming and Conflict Part II"
June: "Soccer Diplomacy"
July: "Sustainable Development is Nature's Way
August: "Parallel Universes"
September: "The News is not New"
October: "Legalizing Torture"
November: "Living Without an Enemy"
December: "Fast Food is really Slow Food"

Archives 2007
Volumn 6

January: "State of Fear"
February: Criminal Justice - "The Powerful Over the Weak"
March: "Culture Shock: The Good Life and Survival"
April: "March Madness"
May: "No Child Left Behind" Leaves Many Teachers Behind
June: "Personal Ecology"
July: Criminal Justice - "The Ethic of Custodianship"
August: "Exploring the Mind - part 1"
September: "Exploring the Mind - part 2: The Poetic Mind
October: "How Much Pain Can We Stand?"
November: "When Languages Disappear"
December: "Is it Enough to be Tolerant?"

Archives 2008
Volumn 7

January: "Beyond Ideology: Politics of the Future "
February: "Beyond the Bush Years"
March: "The Imaginary Economy - Part I
April: "The Imaginary Economy - Part II
May: Questions from Prison
June: "iGods and Connectivity"
July: "Energy Independence"
August: "Tribalism and the 2008 Elections
September: "Guilt, Shame and U.S. Justice"
October: "Have We Been Willing Slaves?"
November: "Are We Ready for the Future?"
December: "Are we done learning from pain?"

Archives 2009
Volumn 8

January: "Awakening"
February: "When Sacrifice is no Sacrifice"
March: "The Good New Days"
April: "The Power of Metaphor"
May: "The Conflict of Mythologies"
June: "The Time is Right"
July: "The New Anarchy"
August: "The Art of Living"
September: "Outrage"
October: "Are Women Becoming More Unhappy?

November: "Effect of the manufacturing culture on the American Psyche"
December: Who are the Real Game Changers?

Archives 2010
Volumn 9

January: The Music of Place
February: Earthquakes and Other Awakenings
March: Sense of Place, Sense of Self, Sense of Humanity
April: Why Do People Serve?
May: Decentralizing Food and Energy
June: Beyond Reading and Writing — Ecological literacy
July: Organization or Organism?
August: Fear and Cynicism = “Inter-fear-ance”
September: Are we afraid of our "Better Angels?"
October: Choosing Our Battles
November: Meeting the Need
December: A Living Canvas

Archives 2002: Vol. 1, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:
Hope for the Future
Six Part Series on Science and Religion
First Three Parts of the Series on Leadership
Archives 2003: Vol. 2, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:

Series on Leadership continued
Avoiding Dictatorship in a Free Society

Art and Politics
Living the Good Life

Teaching Teens
World Peace in Less Than a Month?
Archives 2004: Vol. 3, Numbers 1-12
Read past articles including:

Seven Part Series on Global Consciousness
Is "Liberal" a Dirty Word?
Can Idealism Solve Problems?
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All
Poetry Diplomacy Science and Religion  Teen Help
Archives 2002 Archives 2003 Archives 2004
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