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Fasting Protest at U.S. Capitol

October 20, 1986

Weschler's article is a fine appeal to the conscience of the nation to support Medal of Honor Charles Liteky's protest against our war in Nicaragua. But he cites a "truism" that Gandhian nonviolence works only if the surrounding society evinces a minimal level of public conscience (as the British did) that might be pricked by the nonviolent spectacle."

A truism in my dictionary is a self-evident truth. And I don't think that statement is at all self-evident to advocates of non-violence in the Gandhian or other traditions. I will grant that opponents of nonviolence frequently assent that that nonviolence only worked because the British had a conscience. But that was not Gandhi's position, or that of any other advocate of nonviolence. Their belief is that every human being--even Hitler and Stalin--has that of God within (or conscience for the atheist), and the efficacy of nonviolence depends not on some minimum social condition, but on the strength of the love in the user.

Thus Liteky's power in attaching national media attention, and ultimately the heart of the President, is the punity of his appeal.

J.W. GOULD

Claremont

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