Nonviolence is a relatively new word in English, invented about 1920 by Mohandas Gandhi in his struggle for Indian independence. It is a direct translation of the Indian word ahimsa, found in Hindu and Buddhist writings. As used in this sense, it means more than the simple absence of violence: in a situation of violence or oppression, it is a method of acting that tries to establish a human bond between the oppressor and oppressed, between the resister and the authorities resisted. In contrast to war and violent revolution as a means of bringing about change, proponents of nonviolence argue that the true revolution begins with the means of change. If we want to create a new society based on justice and respect for all, the means themselves must reflect that justice and respect, whereas, as Aldous Huxley put it, 'the results of violence are the formation of a habit of brutality and a growing determination to retain power by even the foulest means - the more violence, the less revolution'.

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