What Gandhi Can Teach Us About Resolving Conflict and Attaining Peace

Summary of:

Kumar, A., & Kumar Singh, A. (2019). Conflict resolution: An analysis of Gandhian approach. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342105242_Conflict_Resolution_An_Analysis_of_Gandhian_Approach

Background & Theory

This article approaches conflict resolution through the lens of Mahatma Gandhi’s life and values. The authors explain the methods Gandhi used to approach conflict and come to peaceful resolution for all members involved.

Research Question

The authors address the following question:

  1. How did Mahatma Gandhi address conflict, and what can we learn from him?

Methods

The authors conduct their research by discussing Gandhi’s background, exploring conflict categories, what conflict resolution ultimately means, and examples of and ways that Gandhi often resolved conflict, both personally and for others. A main topic discussed is Satyagraha, which was what Gandhi practiced; Satyagraha involves using nonviolent means to attain peace. The authors discuss how he practiced the following conflict resolution measures under the scope of Satyagraha: non-cooperation, civil disobedience, fasting, negotiation, persuasion, conversion, self suffering, and nonviolent action.

Results

The authors conclude their research by noting that Gandhi used many methods to achieve conflict resolution, but they ultimately all fell under nonviolent means and with the ultimate goal of peace. One interesting thought the authors note is that Gandhi worked to attain a mutual resolution for all parties involved (i.e., they either both compromised or both achieved something out of the situation, so that all had an equal outcome). There is much to learn from how Gandhi addressed conflict. A few specific areas to mention are the idea of mutual respect, the goal being truth and peace for all involved, attempting various means to resolve conflict based on the situation at hand, and to resolve conflict in such a way that no further conflict will arise or remain.

What This Means

  • The goal for addressing conflict should always be in creating lasting peace, and peace attained in genuine, ethical ways. 
  • Truth is important when resolving conflict. We should encourage those involved in conflict to speak their truths and determine how to best meet the needs of all involved.
  • Willingness to reconcile and having respect for one another is a critical aspect of achieving solid conflict resolution and peace. Finding ways to bridge emotions and issues for groups to understand and respect one another is very important in this field.

Final Takeaway

For consultants: Make the aim in mediating or resolving conflict to build true peace for the parties involved. It may be difficult to do, but achieves the best result for everyone involved. Find ways to encourage those involved to hear, listen, and understand one another; it’s the best tool at resolving the issues at hand.

For everyone: Be open to understanding others, and open about your own feelings and thoughts. These can go a long way in preventing and resolving conflict.