The COVID-19 tsunami is leaving in its wake death and widening circles of destruction. But it is also making a dramatically obvious point: violence doesn’t help.
Violence — which individuals and whole societies chronically reach for in the hopes of defending themselves, solving their problems or resolving their conflicts — makes no sense in coping with this dangerous reality. Violence will not flatten the curve of infection or heal those who have tested positive. If anything, violent policies and behavior — attacking the sick or restricting their access to treatment, or exploding into rage — will only worsen an already bad situation.
Instead, people everywhere are increasingly unleashing the power and spirit of nonviolent engagement: compassion, courage, resilience, sacrifice and concerted action for the common good. In the midst of the terror of this moment, these facets of active nonviolence are spreading everywhere as we mobilize to prevent transmission, treat the sick, console the dying, comfort survivors, and learn vital lessons from the awful toll that this cataclysm is taking. It is starkly apparent that these and many other nonviolent efforts, not violent reactions, are critical to getting through this crisis — and will be every bit as important as sheltering in place or washing our hands.
In times of uncertainty and turmoil, the only way to rebuild — rather than regress — is to have an alternative strategic plan.