In many ways, violence may be regarded as the antithesis of personalism. Violence is the ultimate depersonalization. Violence is the rejection of communion with another – it is the direct destruction of community and relationship. When one human commits violence against another, not only does the victim suffer physical and/or mental injury; the perpetrator too is destroyed, brutalized, dehumanized.

Therefore, personalists have not only taken a principal stand against violence, but have also shown that it can be applied, with Desmond Tutu and Martin Luther King as the finest examples. Also the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber was critical in his approach to his country, Israel’s, use of power against the Palestinians – he saw it as “dehumanizing”, and encouraged the political leaders to seek cooperation.

Even though we live in a world that is largely based on the right of the strongest, the philosophy of nonviolence is in progress. From a personalist perspective the moral foundation is essential, but there is another central argument: That nonviolence turns out to be a very effective weapon.

Personalists are not necessarily pacifists (some are), but are characterized by their will to go a long way in order to reach diplomatic and peaceful solutions.

Center for Konfliktløsning (Norwegian web-magazine)

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