How would Mahatma Gandhi confront terrorism today? And what action would the apostle of nonviolence take in response to the wars waged in the name of anti-terrorism? David Cortright’s new book, Gandhi and Beyond: Nonviolence for an Age of Terrorism, doesn’t directly answer these questions, but it provides an excellent foundation for anyone seeking nonviolent social change in any era, including our own.
Cortright, who teaches peace studies at Notre Dame, makes a thoughtful and compelling case that the power of nonviolent action is virtually untapped—our understanding of nonviolence as a political and social force, he says, is like the awareness of electricity at the time of Edison. With Gandhi and Beyond, Cortright provides a tool that could actually help change that lack of awareness.
The book, which has its roots in Cortright’s peace curriculum, has two related conceptual frames: The first is focused on Gandhi himself—his life, his teaching, and most important his “experiments with truth” that led to the independence of India. Since Gandhi was “the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale,” as Martin Luther King put it, this is an essential study for any Christian interested in social change.