Gandhi, Lennon and the Power of Non-Violence

As armed conflicts still rage on in some parts of the world, we should remember that there is another path, another solution to conflict that need not involve the tragic loss of human life. The path of non-violence.

International Day of Non-Violence

In 2007 the United Nations declared 2 October, International Day of Non-Violence. That day was chosen because it was Gandhi’s birthday. Better known as Mahatma Gandhi, he chose the path of passive resistance in the struggle for India’s independence from the British Empire.

The purpose of International Day of Non-Violence is ‘to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence’ by raising awareness around the world.

Among the iconic images that both startle and inspire is the Knotted Gun sculpture by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd.

john lennon beatles

Reuterswärd was a friend of John Lennon, another advocate of peaceful means to settle disputes. After Lennon was murdered by a gunman outside his home in New York, his wife, Yoko Ono, asked the sculptor to create a symbol for peace.

The sculpture is a representation of a knot tied in the barrel of a Colt Python 357 Magnum revolver. Unveiled in 1988 at the UN in New York, this year is the sculpture’s 20th anniversary celebrated with the release of limited-edition versions.


It is ironic that two of the most peace-loving, non-violence advocates the world has ever seen both died by the gun.

Gandhi’s famous quote ‘Nothing good can be built on violence’ obviously refers to the use of physical, psychological and other forms of violence to subjugate people.

And yet, instead of ending the spread of the non-violence message, the violent deaths of Lennon and Gandhi have in fact become examples of the futility and senselessness of violence. In this way the good that comes out of their deaths has defeated the proponents of violence.

The Knotted Gun, inspired by the death of John Lennon, will be re-unveiled on 2 October 2018, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Symbolism as a tool of non-violence has an indescribable power to move the human spirit.

Continuing Their Message

Such is the power of the symbolism of Nonviolence, to give the sculpture its proper name, that it has copies in over 30 locations around the world. It has also been adopted as the logo of the Non-Violence Project Foundation.

We all understand the message of non-violence when it involves the image of gun. You might be thinking, ‘But what can I do about peace and non-violence? I can’t stop wars.’

This may be true, but in our daily lives we do meet with different forms of violence. Nor is the violence necessarily physical. The seemingly innocuous term ‘to give someone a tongue lashing’ uses a word that means ‘beating with a stick or a whip’.

Bullying is violence. Again, you may be thinking, ‘That doesn’t apply to me. I left school years ago.’ Have you ever been in a shop or restaurant when a customer is shouting abuse at the staff? That is bullying and that is violence.

In your workplace, have you witnessed or been the victim of any form of harassment? That too is violence.

So, if you think you have no chance to help the cause of non-violence, then think again. The method to counter-attacking violence is very simple: stand up and speak out for non-violence.




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