What is the common thread between Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, and Benjamin Franklin? they have all, in one form or another, secured independence for their people, be it a political, religious or spiritual one. In fact, there is one more common thing, at least between two of the three: their independence was granted from the British, who ruled India and the United States. Benjamin Franklin did it the US way, the mostly rebellion and violent way. Mahatma Gandhi did it the rather quiet and peaceful way. Jesus did it in the most peaceful way, although ironically, his own blood was spilled to save the nation.
Looking at these three examples, one wonders if any of them can fit our Assyrian experience, in a way than can be applied, to gain the independence we need through it? which one should Assyrians use? It doesn’t matter which one they have been using so far, rest assured that no one single approach will work, instead we need a combination of all three. Yes, that means mixing the High way with the more violent American Way!
The Indian Way
What characterizes the Indian Way and what makes it such? to begin with, there is no such thing as ‘Indian Way/Approach to Independence.’ It is simply an example we use here of the different methods that nations employed to gain independence. It is characterized by a mix of peaceful opposition to colonization and the occasional and ever-increasing refusal to cooperate with the government of the colonizing power. In the case of the Indian independence, Mahatma Gandhi was the main architect and engineer, employing no use of any force or violence.
The Civil Disobedience Movement represented what Gandhi was all about: disobeying the public order and law imposed by British authorities, to a point where order and law in the country is virtually non-existent. This of course was not a good thing for the Brits, and thus resulting in the signing of the famous Gandhi-Irwin Pact March 1931. In it, the British Government agreed to set all political prisoners free in exchange for the suspension of the civil disobedience movement. The ‘Nationalist Movement’ played a big role too, rarely resorting to the use of violence. The blend of all of these parties, without the use of any violence against the British, culminated in the eventual independence of India. As you can see, non-violence worked to secure the independence of India, thanks to the engineer of the whole movement, Mahatma Gandhi.
The American Way
Since the early 1600s, the new colonist in the new discovered land of America, attempted to separate from the British mother land. Most of these attempts were violent in nature, as well as a mix of rebellions and oppositions. The British made matters worse for themselves by continuing to oppress the people of the new world, imposing various unnecessary and harsh taxes and laws on them. “Taxation without Representation” was one of the factors that led to the ignition of anger for Americans, which sought to take taxes from the colonies without giving them any real representation. Then came the “Stamp Act” which imposed various levis and fees on all papers, documents, cards etc. This all finally escalated to an all out war between the colonies and the colonizing British, ending in victories for the Americans. Finally in 1776, the Americans, led by Benjamin Franklin, declared it independence, and thus separating themselves from the mother land. The Brits continued to try and regain their control over their former colony, sending various armies to quash the new republic, but failure was usually their fate.
In 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, forever ending the colonization of the American land, and approving of its independence. As we can see, the Americans did it the hard and violent way, even though their opposition was the most powerful empire on earth. Violence and full scale war worked in this case.
The High Way
I bet you, this way of gaining independence the “High Way” is new to you. It is something you have never heard of, or maybe did but in a different form. Its main architect and engineer is Jesus himself, the son of God. “Jesus engineered an independence?” you may be asking yourself. He did. Albeit, a spiritual one, where the blood of none of his people was spilled, but only his. You see, there is more than one unique thing about the High Way to independence as mastered by Jesus.
Comparing it to the other ways above, it is the only way through which the leader gave his own blood, thus sparing his own people from spilling their blood. It is also unique in that it was mostly peaceful in nature, with full reliance on help from God above. Of course, it is also different from all other ways in that the independence it secured was not land or nation based. It was purely a religious and spiritual one, which is why a lot of Jews were disappointed, as they were awaiting a savior in both a religious and political sense. Again, the reliance on help from above and God, is what makes this way, the High Way. Full or complete reliance on help from above to achieve your objective, without ever relying on violence or anything that contradicts the Bible and Ten Commandments.
And the Winner is…?
Having read all the various ways through which nations and people gained their independence, which one appeals to you the most? before answering this question, it would be helpful to examine what Assyrians have used in the past. To be clear, independence, doesn’t necessarily mean to have your own state, although that is included too. Assyrians, for the last 50 years or so, have relied mostly on the Indian and High Way to independence. There have also been some flashes of the American way, but I wouldn’t think of it as significant enough. If anything, our use of military options has been mostly to defend ourselves, and nothing else. The many martyrs we gave the last two centuries are an indication of our self-defense and willingness to die for our nation. But then again, our reliance on the Indian and the High way have been the most noticeable. We have always trusted God to be the one leading us through all the difficult times, and we trust him to take us to the promise land, whatever that land looks like. We also believe and trust in all the biblical verses which foretell a future for Assyrians.
Beside our reliance on our churches as our peaceful leaders in these rough times, our reliance on Zowaa and various other organizations was also a peaceful one. Zowaa has always conduced its business in rather peaceful way, from its beginnings to our day today. They have given up many martyrs, but like mentioned earlier, these were mostly self-defense and the readiness of the members to offer their life for the cause. In fact, even in today’s Iraq and all its difficulties, Zowaa and the other Assyrian representatives in the region, have been the voice of reason and peace. Violence and aggression have never been a part of their solution. Only peace.
From the above history, it is clear that Assyrians, for the last 50 years or so, have used a mix of all three, although very little of the American way. The Indian way and the High way has been used more than anything else, and very little of the American way. Should this percentage stay the same? if anything, the mix should stay there, and more of the American Way should be mixed into the percentage, albeit for self-defense purposes. But we should definitely give more thought to the Indian Way, because it can be very effective, if mastered correctly. Of course, we need our own Mahatma Gandhi, someone who embodies his nation’s desires and hope. People may agree or disagree, but we already have some characteristics of Gandhi in our own Mar Dinkha, the leader of our church as well as in Younadam Kana, the secretary of Zowaa.
The Indian Way is very fit for our world today. But to use it effectively, we have to meet its requirements. One of the requirements, is to build yourself well into the community and society you live in. Make Assyrians an important part of any community they live within. Once that is achieved, they will be able to build their lobby, which will have a big influence on decisions and matters relating to the Assyrian issue. As part of the Indian Way, our people also have to be very active, educated and socially mobile. Mobile in the sense that they can move from one place to another, doing whatever it takes to make their voice heard, in a mostly peaceful manner.
In the long term, when Assyrians have wise fully and effectively placed themselves in society, they can manipulate the public opinion, change rules and laws in their favor. But whatever you use, our people and officials should always mix the three ways to independence. Of course, at the end of the day, there are many many variables to consider, all depending on preferences and the circumstances. A salad is never a good salad, when it only has one vegetable, and not a mix of many, although one vegetable like tomatoes or lettuce could be the most used.