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Non-violent Initiative

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Who would be the five hundred global personalities most admired by the Russian people? With Christianity ruling strong among the Russians following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Pope in the Vatican – leader of the sister institution to the Russian Orthodox Church – would very probably be one. Hollywood stars, rock and pop stars from around the world would also have a high profile, as would stars of various sports enjoyed by the Russian people. Also, there are any number of persons who promote global causes such as on climate change, human rights and charitable activity – Greta Thunberg, Malala Yusufzai, Kailash Satyarthi, Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar, to name just a few.

How about all these persons adopt a Gandhian approach to the Ukraine crisis by moving to that country and living among the common people on the border. So, if Russia attacks, the casualties will not just be of anonymous people who would soon be forgotten. President Putin would have the blood of the world’s most noble people on his hands. Would the Russians accept being part of such atrocities, where the victims are admired luminaries? Terrorist organisations, of course, have no problem with killing whoever comes in their way, but will Russia’s soldiers be able to deceive themselves that those who stand unarmed before them are ‘enemies’?

All of the ‘influencers’ who help us decide on important issues as we fashion our future would also be able to display their commitment to world peace and human rights by placing themselves on the front line to avert a crisis that could escalate to unprecedented levels. What a wonderful way it would be to show that the Gandhian philosophy of non-violent resistance is still relevant and effective in the 21st Century. In fact, it would not even come to all of these people actually moving to Ukraine – even an early high profile few should be able to tilt Russian public opinion against conflict. The idea is worth trying in an environment when other efforts at rapprochement do not seem to be having an impact. It could be human civilisation’s next step forward on the evolutionary path!