ON SOCIAL SERVICE
Chapter 29: Qualification of A Peace Brigade
Some time ago I suggested the formation of a Peace Brigade whose members would risk their lives in dealing with riots, especially communal. The idea was that this Brigade should substitute the police and even the military. This reads ambitious. The achievement may prove impossible. Yet, if the Congress is to succeed in its nonviolent struggle, it must develop the power to deal peacefully with such situations. Communal riots are engineered by politically minded men. Many of those who take part in them are under the influence of the latter.
Let us, therefore, see what qualifications a member of the contemplated Peace Brigade should possess.
- He or she must have a living faith in nonviolence. This is impossible without a living faith in God. A nonviolent man can do nothing to save by the power and grace of God. Without it he won't have the courage to die without anger, without fear and without retaliation.
- This messenger of peace must have equal regard for all the principal religions of the earth. Thus, if he is a Hindu, he will respect the other faiths current in India.
- Generally speaking, this work of peace can only be done by local men in their own localities.
- The work can be done singly or in groups.
- This messenger of peace will cultivate through personal service contacts with the people in his locality or chose circle, so that when he appears to deal with ugly situations, he does not descend upon the members of a riotous assembly as an utter stranger liable to be looked upon as a suspect or an unwelcome visitor.
- Needless to say, a peace bringer must have a character beyond reproach and must be known for his strict impartiality.
- Generally there are previous warnings of coming storms. If these are known, the peace brigade will not wait till the conflagration breaks out but will try to handle the situation in anticipation.
- Whilst, if the movement spreads, it might be well if there are some whole-time workers, it is not absolutely necessary that there should be. The idea is to have as many good and true men and women as possible. These can be had only if volunteers are drawn from those who are engaged in various walks of life but have leisure enough to cultivate friendly relations with the people living in their circle and otherwise possess the qualifications required of a member of the Peace Brigade.
- There should be a distinctive dress worn by the members of the contemplated brigade so that in course of time they will be recognized without the slightest difficulty.
These are but general suggestions. Each centre can work out its own constitution on the basis here suggested.
Lest false hopes may be raised, I must warn workers against entertaining the hope that 1 can play any active part in the formation of Peace Brigades. 1 have not the health, energy or time for it. I find it hard enough to cope with the tasks 1 dare not shirk. 1 can only guide and make suggestions through correspondence or these columns. Therefore those who appreciate the idea and feel they have the ability, take the initiative themselves. 1 know that the proposed Brigade has great possibilities and that the idea behind it is quite capable of being worked out in practice.