Does Non-Violence Exclude Self-defense?
True non-violence recognizes the right of people to defend themselves, their life and their
property, including their family, community and country, from
unprovoked violent attack. However monks and yogis who have
renounced the world no longer have any attachments. They are not
required to defend anything, though it is not wrong for them to
defend themselves if they choose to.
Yet self-defense should
never be an excuse for violence. Even if we have to defend ourselves
we should not hate those who are attacking us. We should act only in
such a way to prevent more violence from occurring. Self-defense
should not be a disguised form of self-assertion. It never requires
that we attack others first or that we aggressively seek to promote
our beliefs or expand our borders.
On the other hand,
non-violence should not be an excuse for not defending the Truth,
which requires that we hold to the Truth even when faced with
opposition. Non-violence does not mean to passively and fearfully
allow the forces of untruth to promote themselves unquestioned. True
non-violence is not cowardice that flees from confrontation but
Divine courage which faces all confrontations without running away
or resorting to force. This means not responding to violence with
violence but responding to it with Truth and fearlessness.