Today is International Day of Non-Violence. The Day was founded in 2007 by the United Nations General Assembly who decided to observe it each year on the 2nd of October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
According to General Assembly resolution A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, International Day of Non-Violence is an occasion to ‘disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness’. The resolution reaffirms ‘the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence’ and the desire ‘to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence’.
Mahatma Gandhi, born on this day in 1869, was the leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence. Gandhi spent 20 years in South Africa working to fight discrimination. It was there that he created his concept of satyagraha, a non-violent way of protesting against injustices.
While in India, Gandhi’s obvious virtue, simplistic lifestyle, and minimal dress endeared him to the people. He spent many years working diligently to both remove British rule from India as well as to better the lives of India’s poorest people. Although Gandhi was not the originator of the principle of non-violence, he was the first to apply it in the political field on a large scale. Many civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, used Gandhi’s concept of non-violent protest as a model for their own struggles.