Looking at life through lens of passive violence
I recently heard a brief presentation on Gandhi's seven social sins, and thought they had a lot to say into the circumstances of the modern world.
They were understood by Gandhi as being a function of the passive violence we commit against each other.
This passive violence is woven into the structure of the social world we live in, in such a way that people are able to commit violence without ever feeling violent.
To give you an example, one of the social sins is 'wealth without work'.
I feel like there are two ways that this could be interpreted, the first is the picture that is often portrayed of the 'dole bludger', and we already see some people suggesting that people receiving support from the government will choose not to find work even if they could during the economic impact of Covid-19.
The other way to look at 'wealth without work', which I believe accords more with the notion of the passive violence, is to be realistic about the notion of violence, and recognise that wealth very often is not a result of hard work, and that all too often hard work does not result in wealth, at least not for the one working hard.
By wealth I am not talking about people who have saved up enough to retire comfortably, or who have been able to provide opportunities for their children that they never had themselves. I am talking about the vast inequalities that exist, which no amount of hard work can justify, between the very wealthy and those who have very little.
The inequality is maintained by the story that they earned what they have, rather than acknowledging that the wealth they have acquired relied on others working hard and on society accepting that if everyone just worked harder, we could be amongst the wealthy.
That story is a story of passive violence because it justifies gaining wealth at the expense of others.
If you google the seven social sins you will find the others there, and I hope the lens of passive violence will help you interpret them.
You may also find out that they were originally proposed by an Anglican minister Frederick Lewis Donaldson, before being popularised by Gandhi.
Rev. Andrew Schmidt Good Shepherd Anglican Church