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domestic police, would be done away." _Mennonite Qu. Rev._, XVII,


The term "resistance" has occurred frequently in this study. As has been
pointed out, this word has a negative quality, and implies opposition to
the will of another, rather than an attempt to realize a positive
policy. The preceding section dealt with its counterpart,
"non-resistance," which has a neutral connotation, and implies that the
non-resister is not involved in the immediate struggle, and that for him
the refusal to inflict injury upon anyone is a higher value than the
achievement of any policy of his own, either positive or negative.

Non-violent coercion, Satyagraha, and non-violent direct action, on the
other hand, are definitely positive in their approach. Each seeks to
effectuate a specified change in the policy of the person or group
responsible for a situation which those who organize the non-violent
action believe to be undesirable. However, even in such action the
negative quality may appear. Satyagraha, for instance, insofar as it is
a movement of opposition or "resistance" to British rule in India is
negative, despite its positive objectives of establishing a certain type
of government and economic system in that country.

The employment of active goodwill is another approach to the problem of
bringing about desired social change. Its proponents seek to accomplish
a positive alteration in the attitude and policy of the group or person
responsible for some undesirable situation; but they refuse to use
coercion - even non-violent coercion. Rather they endeavor to convince
their opponent that it would be desirable to change his policy because
the change would be in his own best interest, or would actually maintain
his own real standard of values.

Many of those who would reject all coercion of an opponent practice such
positive goodwill towards him, not because they are convinced that their
action will accomplish the social purposes which they would like to
achieve, but rather because they place such an attitude toward their
fellowmen as their highest value. They insist that they would act in the
same way regardless of the consequences of their action, either to the
person towards whom they practice goodwill or to themselves. They act on
the basis of principle rather than on the basis of expediency. In this
regard they are like many of the practitioners of other methods of
non-violence; but unlike them they place their emphasis on the positive
action of goodwill which they _will_ use, rather than upon a catalogue
of violent actions which they will not use.

To those who practice the method of goodwill all types of education and
persuasion are available. In the past they have used the printed and
spoken word, and under favorable circumstances even political action.
They hope to appeal to "that of God in every man," to bring about
genuine repentance on the part of those who have been responsible for
evil. If direct persuasion is not effective, they hope that their
exhibition of love towards him whom others under the same circumstances
would regard as an enemy may appeal to an aspect of his nature which is
temporarily submerged, and result in a change of attitude on his part.
If it does not, these advocates of goodwill are ready to suffer the
consequences of their action, even to the point of death.

Action in the Face of Persecution

The practice of positive goodwill is open to the individual as well as
to the group. Since he does what he believes to be right regardless of
the consequences, he will act before there are enough who share his
opinion to create any chance of victory over the well organized forces
of the state or other institutions which are responsible for evil. The
history of the martyrs of all ages presents us with innumerable examples
of men who have acted in this way. Socrates is of their number, as well
as the early Christians who insisted upon practicing their religion
despite the edicts of the Roman empire. Jesus himself is the outstanding
example of one who was willing to die rather than to surrender
principle. It cannot be said of these martyrs that they acted in order
to bring about reforms in society. They suffered because under the
compulsion of their faith they could act in no other way, and at the
time of their deaths it always looked as though they had been defeated.
But in the end their sacrifices had unsought results. The proof of their
effectiveness is declared in the old adage that "the blood of the
martyrs is the seed of the church."

If we seek examples from relatively recent times, we may find them in
the annals of many of the pacifist sects of our own day. Robert Barclay,
the Quaker apologist of the late seventeenth century, stated the
position which the members of the Society of Friends so often put to the

"But the true, faithful and Christian suffering is for men to
profess what they are persuaded is right, and so practise and
perform their worship towards God, as being their true right so to
do; and neither to do more than that, because of outward
encouragement from men; nor any whit less, because of the fear of
their laws and acts against it."[112]

The early Quakers suffered severely under the laws of England in a day
when religious toleration was virtually unheard of. George Fox himself
had sixty encounters with magistrates and was imprisoned on eight
occasions; yet he was not diverted from his task of preaching truth. It
has been estimated that 15,000 Quakers "suffered" under the various
religious acts of the Restoration.[113] But they continued to hold the
principles which had been stated by twelve of their leaders, including
Fox, to King Charles shortly after his return to England:

"Our principle is, and our practice always has been, to seek peace
and ensue it; to follow after righteousness and the knowledge of
God; seeking the good and welfare, and doing that which tends to
the peace of all.

* * * * *

"When we have been wronged, we have not sought to revenge
ourselves; we have not made resistance against authority; but
whenever we could not obey for conscience sake, we have suffered
the most of any people in the nation...."[114]

These sufferings did not go unheeded. Even the wordly Samuel Pepys wrote
in his diary concerning Quakers on their way to prison: "They go like
lambs without any resistance I would to God they would either conform or
be more wise and not be catched."[115]

In Massachusetts, where the Puritans hoped to establish the true garden
of the Lord, the lot of the Quakers was even more severe. Despite
warnings and imprisonments, Friends kept encroaching upon the Puritan
preserve until the Massachusetts zealots, in their desperation over the
failure of the gentler means of quenching Quaker ardor, condemned and
executed three men and a woman. Even Charles II was revolted by such
extreme measures, and ordered the colony to desist. After a long
struggle the Quakers, along with other advocates of liberty of
conscience, won their struggle for religious liberty even in
Massachusetts. There can be little doubt that their sufferings played
an important part in the establishment of religious liberty as an
American principle.[116]

In our own day the conscientious objector to military service, whatever
his motivation and philosophy, faces a social situation very similar to
that which confronted these early supporters of a new faith. For the
moment there is little chance that his insistence upon following the
highest values which his conscience recognizes will bring an end to war,
because there are not enough others who share his convictions. He takes
his individual stand without regard for outward consequences to himself,
because his conviction leaves him no other alternative. But even though
his "sufferings" do not at once make possible the universal practice of
goodwill towards all men, they may in the end have the result of helping
to banish war from the world.


[112] Robert Barclay, _An Apology for the True Christian Divinity; being
an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the
People Called Quakers_ (Philadelphia: Friends' Book Store, 1908),
Proposition XIV, Section VI, 480.

[113] A. Ruth Fry, _Quaker Ways: An Attempt to Explain Quaker Beliefs
and Practices and to Illustrate them by the Lives and Activities of
Friends of Former Days_ (London: Cassell, 1933), 126, 131.

[114] Quoted by Margaret E. Hirst, _The Quakers in Peace and War: an
Account of Their Peace Principles and Practice_ (New York: George H.
Doran, 1923), 115-116.

[115] Quoted in Fry, _Quaker Ways_, 128-129.

[116] Hirst, 327; Rufus M. Jones, _The Quakers in the American Colonies_
(London: Macmillan, 1923), 3-135.

Coercion or Persuasion?

A man who is willing to undergo imprisonment and even death itself
rather than to cease doing what he believes is right knows in his own
heart that coercion is not an effective means of persuasion. The early
Quakers saw this clearly. Barclay stated his conviction in these words:

"This forcing of men's consciences is contrary to sound reason, and
the very law of nature. For man's understanding cannot be forced by
all the bodily sufferings another man can inflict upon him,
especially in matters spiritual and super-natural: 'Tis argument,
and evident demonstration of reason, together with the power of God
reaching the heart, that can change a man's mind from one opinion
to another, and not knocks and blows, and such like things, which
may well destroy the body, but never can inform the soul, which is
a free agent, and must either accept or reject matters of opinion
as they are borne in upon it by something proportioned to its own

And William Penn said more simply, "Gaols and gibbets are inadequate
methods for conversion: this forbids all further light to come into the

Other religious groups who went through experiences comparable to those
of the Friends came to similar conclusions. The Church of the Brethren,
founded in 1709 in Germany, took as one of its leading principles that
"there shall be no force in religion," and carried it out so faithfully
that they would not baptize children, on the ground that this act would
coerce them into membership in the church before they could decide to
join of their own free will. The Brethren have refused to take part in
war not only because it is contrary to the spirit of Christian love, and
destroys sacred human life, but also because it is coercive and
interferes with the free rights of others.[119]

For the person who believes in the practice of positive goodwill towards
all men, the refusal to use coercion arises from its incompatibility
with the spirit of positive regard for every member of the human family,
rather than being a separate value in itself. In social situations this
regard may express itself in various ways. It may have a desirable
result from the point of view of the practitioner, but again we must
emphasize that he does what he does on the basis of principle; the
result is a secondary consideration.


[117] Barclay, _Apology_, Prop. XIV, Sec. IV, 470.

[118] Fry, _Quaker Ways_. 59-60.

[119] D. W. Kurtz, _Ideals of the Church of the Brethren_, leaflet
(Elgin, Ill.: General Mission Board, 1934?); Martin G. Brumbaugh in
_Studies in the Doctrine of Peace_ (Elgin, Ill.: Board of Christian
Education, Church of the Brethren, 1939), 56; the statement of the
Goshen Conference of 1918 and other statements of the position of the
church in L. W. Shultz (ed.), _Minutes of the Annual Conference of the
Church of the Brethren on War and Peace_, mimeo (Elgin: Bd. of Chr. Ed.,
Church of the Brethren, 1935); and the pamphlet by Robert Henry Miller,
_The Christian Philosophy of Peace_ (Elgin: Bd. of Chr. Ed., Church of
the Brethren, 1935).

Ministering to Groups in Conflict

One expression of this philosophy may be abstention from partisanship in
conflicts between other groups, in order to administer impartially to
the human need of both parties to the conflict.

In this connection much has been made of the story of the Irish Quakers
during the rebellion in that country in 1798. Before the conflict broke
into open violence the Quarterly Meetings and the General National
Meeting recommended that all Friends destroy all firearms in their
possession so that there could be no suspicion of their implication in
the coming struggle. During the fighting in 1798 the Friends interceded
with both sides in the interests of humanity, entertained the destitute
from both parties and treated the wounds of any man who needed care.
Both the Government forces and the rebels came to respect Quaker
integrity, and in the midst of pillage and rapine the Quaker households
escaped unscathed. But Thomas Hancock, who told the story a few years
later, pointed out that in their course of conduct the Friends had not
sought safety.

"It is," he said, "to be presumed, that, even if outward
preservation had not been experienced, they who conscientiously
take the maxims of Peace for the rule of their conduct, would hold
it not less their duty to conform to those principles; because the
reward of such endeavor to act in obedience to their Divine
Master's will is not always to be looked for in the present life.
While, therefore, the fact of their outward preservation would be
no sufficient argument to themselves that they had acted as they
ought to act in such a crisis, it affords a striking lesson to
those who will take no principle, that has not been verified by
experience, for a rule of human conduct, even if it should have the
sanction of Divine authority."[120]

It is in this same spirit that various pacifist groups undertook the
work of relief of suffering after the First World War in "friendly" and
"enemy" countries alike, ministering to human need without distinction
of party, race or creed. The stories of the work of the American Friends
Service Committee and the _Service Civil_ founded by Pierre Ceresole are
too well known to need repeating here.[121] It should not be overlooked
that in this same spirit the Brethren and the Mennonites also carried on
large scale relief projects during the interwar years.


[120] Thomas Hancock, _The Principles of Peace Exemplified in the
Conduct of the Society of Friends in Ireland During the Rebellion of the
year 1798, with some Preliminary and Concluding Observations_ (2nd ed.,
London, 1826), 28-29. All the important features of the story are
summarized in Hirst, 216-224.

[121] Lester M. Jones, _Quakers in Action: Recent Humanitarian and
Reform Activities of the American Quakers_ (New York: Macmillan, 1929);
Rufus M. Jones, _A Service of Love in War Time_ (New York: Macmillan,
1920); Mary Hoxie Jones, _Swords into Plowshares: An Account of the
American Friends Service Committee 1917-1937_ (New York: Macmillan,
1937); Willis H. Hall, _Quaker International Work in Europe Since 1914_
(Chambery, Savoie, France: Imprimeries Reunies, 1938). On _Service
Civil_, see Lilian Stevenson, _Towards a Christian International, The
Story of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation_ (Vienna:
International Fellowship of Reconciliation, 1929), 27-31, and Alan A.
Hunter, _White Corpuscles in Europe_ (Chicago: Willett, Clark, 1939),

The Power of Example

A social group that acts consistently in accordance with the principles
of active goodwill also exerts great influence through the force of its
example. A study of the Quaker activities in behalf of social welfare
was published in Germany just before the First World War, by Auguste
Jorns. She shows how, in relief of the poor, education, temperance,
public health, the care of the insane, prison reform, and the abolition
of slavery, the Quakers set about to solve the problem within their own
society, but never in an exclusive way, so that others as well as
members might receive the benefits of Quaker enterprises. Quaker methods
became well known, and in time served as models for similar undertakings
by other philanthropic groups and public agencies. Many modern social
work procedures thus had their origins in the work of the Friends in a
relatively small circle.[122]


[122] Auguste Jorns, _The Quakers as Pioneers in Social Work_, trans. by
Thomas Kite Brown (New York: Macmillan, 1931).

Work for Social Reform

The activity of Quakers in the abolition of slavery both in England and
America, especially the life-long work of John Woolman in the colonies,
is well known. Here too, the first "concerned" Friends attempted to
bring to an end the practice of holding slaves within the Society
itself. When they had succeeded in eliminating it from their own ranks,
they could, with a clear conscience, suggest that their neighbors follow
their example. When the time came, Quakers were willing to take part in
political action to eradicate the evil. The compensated emancipation of
the slaves in the British Empire in 1833 proved that the reform could be
accomplished without the violent repercussions which followed in the
United States.[123]

Horace G. Alexander has pointed out that the person who voluntarily
surrenders privilege, as the American Quakers did in giving up their
slaves, not only serves as a witness to the falsehood of privilege, but
can never rest until reform is achieved.

"The very fact," he says, "that he feels a loyalty to the
oppressors as well as to the oppressed means that he can never rest
until the oppressors have been converted. It is not their
destruction that he wants, but a change in their hearts."[124]

Such an attitude is based upon a faith in the perfectibility of man and
the possibility of the regeneration of society. It leads from a desire
to live one's own life according to high principles to a desire to
establish similar principles in human institutions. It rejects the
thesis of Reinhold Niebuhr that social groups can never live according
to the same moral codes as individuals, and also the belief of such
groups as the Mennonites that, since the "world" is necessarily evil,
the precepts of high religion apply only to those who have accepted the
Christian way of life. Instead, the conviction of those who hold this
ideal that it is social as well as individual in its application leads
them into the pathways of social reform, and even into political


[123] Henry J. Cadbury, _Colonial Quaker Antecedents to British
Abolition of Slavery_, An address to the Friends' Historical Society,
March 1933 (London: Friends Committee on Slavery and Protection of
Native Races, 1933), reprinted from _The Friends' Quarterly Examiner_,
July, 1933; Jorns, 197-233.

[124] Horace G. Alexander in Heard, _et al._, _The New Pacifism_, 93.

Political Action and Compromise

The Quakers, for instance, have been noted for their participation in
all sorts of reform movements. Since every reform in one sense involves
opposition to some existing institution, Clarence Case has been led to
call the Quakers "non-physical resistants;"[125] but since their real
objective was usually the establishment of a new institution rather than
the mere destruction of an old one, they might better be called
"non-violent advocates." They were willing to advocate their reforms in
the public forum and the political arena. Since, as Rufus Jones has
pointed out, such action might yield to the temptation to compromise
with men of lesser ideals, there has always been an element in the
Society of Friends which insisted that the ideal must be served in its
entirety, even to the extent of giving up public office and influence
rather than to compromise.[126] In Pennsylvania the Quakers withdrew
from the legislature when it became necessary in the existing political
situation to vote support of the French and Indian war, but they did so
not because they did not believe in political action, in which up to
that moment they had taken part willingly enough, but rather because
under the circumstances of the moment it was impossible to realize their
ideals by that means.[127]

Ruth Fry, in discussing the uncompromising attitude of the Friends on
the issue of slavery, has well described the process of Quaker reform:

"One cannot help feeling that this strong stand for the ultimate
right was far more responsible for success than the more timid one,
and should encourage such action in other great causes. In fact,
the ideal Quaker method would seem to be patient waiting for
enlightenment on the underlying principle, which when seen is so
absolutely clear and convincing that no outer difficulties or
suffering can affect it: its full implications gradually appear,
and its ultimate triumph can never be doubted. Any advance towards
it, may be accepted as a stepping stone, although only methods
consistent with Quaker ideals may be used to gain the desired end.
Doing anything tinged with evil, that good may come, is entirely
contrary to their ideas."[128]

She goes on to say, "As ever, the exact line of demarcation between
methods aggressive enough to arouse the indolent and those beyond the
bounds of Quaker propriety was indeed difficult to draw."[129]

In such a statement we find a conception of compromise which is
different from that usually encountered. In it the advocate of the ideal
says that for the time being he will accept less than his ultimate goal,
provided the change is in the direction in which he desires to move, but
he will not accept the slightest compromise which would move away from
his goal.


[125] Case, _Non-Violent Coercion_, 92-93.

[126] Rufus M. Jones, _The Quakers in the American Colonies_, 175-176.

[127] Jones, _Quakers in the Colonies_, 459-494; Isaac Sharpless, _A
Quaker Experiment in Government_ (Philadelphia: Alfred J. Ferris, 1898),

[128] Fry, _Quaker Ways_, 171-172.

[129] _Ibid._, 177.

The Third Alternative

The logical pursuit of such a principle leads even further than the type
of compromise which Ruth Fry has described, to the establishment of a
new basis of understanding which may not include any of the principles
for which the parties in conflict may have been striving, and yet which
brings about reconciliation.

Eric Heyman, speaking in religious terms, has said of this process of
discovering a new basis of understanding through the exercise of
positive goodwill, even toward an oppressor:

"That is the way of God, and it is therefore the way of our
discipleship as reconcilers; the way of non-resistance to evil, of
the total acceptance of the consequences of evil in all their lurid
destructiveness, in order that the evil doer may be reconciled to
God.... The whole consequences of his presence, whether small or
great must be accepted with the single realisation that the whole
process of the world's redemption rests upon the relationship which
the Christian is able to create between himself and his oppressor.
This course has nothing in common with resistance; it is the
opposite of surrender, for its whole purpose and motive is the
triumphing over evil by acceptance of all that it brings.... The
resistance of evil, whether by way of violence or 'non-violence' is
the way of this world. Resignation to evil is the way of weak
surrender, and yields only a powerless resentment; at its best it
is non-moral, at the worst sheerly immoral. Acceptance of evil is
the triumphant answer of the redeemer. In the moment of his
acceptance he knows of a certainty that he has overcome the

This process of finding a new basis of relationship has been called "a
third alternative, which produces no majority rule and no defeated
minority."[131] The Quakers have long used this method in arriving at
decisions within their own meetings. They refuse to make motions and
take votes which produce clearcut divisions within the group, but insist
that no action shall be taken until all divergent points of view have
been expressed, and a statement drawn up which embodies "the sense of
the meeting" and is acceptable to all. As Elton Trueblood has said, "The
overpowering of a minority by calling for a vote is a kind of force, and

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Online LibraryTheodore PaullinIntroduction to Non-Violence → online text (page 6 of 7)