In a political context, the common belief regarding nonviolent resistance (at least to those who do not misperceive it in its negative association as being passive, surrendering, non-confrontational, etc.) is that nonviolent resistance is a set of very powerful tools and strategies used to mobilize the masses, create global solidarity, and engage in advocacy campaigns in order to resist oppression and achieve political liberation, justice, and peace.
While this is truly honored and I can claim to be a practitioner of such a vision, I have over the years come to internally recognize that such statements are limited when it comes to truly understanding the power of nonviolence, even in the political context of a struggle for liberation. I have come to the believe that the true purpose of nonviolence should not be to achieve political goals; that would be like saying the purpose of drinking water is putting it in the glass. While fighting for and achieving political liberation is important, just like drinking water, having it in the glass is not enough.
There is more to the power of nonviolence, strength that goes beyond what we perceive and even imagine. I do not say this as a visionary or as a person who lives in an ideal political setting, I say this as a person who lives in Palestine, under Israeli military occupation, and who on a daily bases witnesses and experiences oppression and humiliation and who is yearning and fighting everyday to put an end to this pain and bloodshed experienced by all those who live here.
What I have come to realize and recognize is that once I learn to engage and commit to the true meaning of nonviolence then I will begin to see conflicts (even political conflicts and the way of dealing with them in a new light, where my engagement in resistance is not only to achieve “my legitimate right” or to highlight the “commonalities between me and my opponent” but it is for creating within me and others the recognition of the most basic of human principle, that we are all equal and should treat each other as such. This is when conflicts begins to disappear and this is when assumptions, biases, and even identities are put aside in order to allow for the most impossible goals to become the most possible realities.
In the political context of the occupation of Palestine, my true goal through nonviolence is not to end the occupation, not to achieve a peace agreement, and not to create a political state, my goal is greater than that. My goal is to reach a point where there is mutual recognition of the equal rights of the other. Once this is achieved the possibilities for a solution to the political conflict are endless, sustainable, and prosperous. We will even be presented with options and opportunities that have never even been thought of. This is when true peace begins to be a reality.
When I demonstrate at the separation wall currently being constructed by the Israeli government my goal should not be to remove it, but to convince the Israeli soldier standing in front of me with his weapons and protective gear that he is completely powerless standing there pointing his weapons towards me and his true strength will only be achieved once he drops his weapons, stands next to me and drink water with me from the same glass.