Every year on 2 October, on what would have been Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, the world celebrates the International Day of Non-Violence. It is, the United Nations writes, an opportunity to “disseminate the message of non-violence” with the goal of “securing a culture of peace, tolerance and understanding”.

Gandhi, who led his country’s battle for independence, is perhaps the best-known practitioner of non-violence. He inspired countless others with his philosophy, including Nobel Prize-winning scientist Albert Einstein.

“Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil,” Einstein wrote.

In celebration of non-violence, and the history of social change it has helped achieve, here are six more quotes from cultural leaders on the topic.

“When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humour.”
John Lennon, musician

Image: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

“The pacifist’s task today is to find a method of helping and healing which provides a revolutionary constructive substitute for war.”
Vera Brittain, author and pacifist

“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”
Thomas Edison, Inventor

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