Satyagraha, in practice…

“Satyagraha, in practice, is a method for resolving conflict.

Traditionally, conflict between opposed parties is ‘resolved’ only by the acknowledged dominance of one antagonist over the other. The assumption is that one side can succeed only at the expense of the other. Success may come by reason or persuasion, by threat or blackmail, or by force, but in any case, the assumption is the same: if there is to be a winner, there must be a loser. Even compromise rests on this assumption since in a compromise one side attempts to get as much as it can at the expense of the other, compromising only to the extent it is forced by circumstances to do so.

Satyagraha challenges this assumption. Rather than trying to conquer the opponent or to annihilate his claims, Satyagraha tries to resolve the sources of conflict. As Gandhi states succinctly, it ‘seeks to liquidate antagonisms but not the antagonists themselves.’ This point is critical since it quickly distinguishes satyagraha from other social action methods which merely attempt to gain self-invested ends.”

–Tim Flinders from his afterword to Eknath Easwaran’s Gandhi the Man.


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