If one does not practice nonviolence in one's personal relations with others and hopes to use it in bigger affairs, one is vastly mistaken.I think one of the biggest failures of the pacifistic witness is when we don't practice nonviolence in our personal relations. Pacifism is too often projected onto the global scale. The conversation becomes almost exclusively about war between political powers. And no doubt that's an important conversation. But it can get a little abstract and philosophical. And some pacifists can be less than charitable toward others. Let's call this big conversation heroic pacifism.
Me? I don't think a lot about heroic pacifism. I probably should, but I spend most of my time thinking about violence in my personal relations, how I treat people--my family, people at work, people at church, people in the line at the store, commenters on this blog. My practice of nonviolence isn't heroic in scale. I practice a little pacifism, a small pacifism. I try not to be a jerk.
Not to say I don't keep my eye on heroic pacifism. I just don't like talking a lot about it. I'd rather be practicing than talking. Mainly because debating about war tends to make me violent.
So maybe Gandhi has it right. Start small. Practice nonviolence in your personal relations. Be tender, gentle, warm. welcoming, patient, and merciful with the people in your life. Practice little pacifism.
I bet it will scale up.