Occasionally, a state of opposition exists. There are those who seek to change the status quo, and those who seek to maintain the status quo. This opposition is natural. But if one side or the other succeeds in changing or defending the status quo without obtaining the consent of their opponent, transforming the beliefs which motivated the opposition, the change will last only so long as sufficient force exists to command the obedience of the opposition.
At such an impasse between those conservatives (not political conservatives, but ideological conservatives, who seek to conserve the change), their opponents will face of hatred with increasing intensity: it is equally natural that an opponent will gradually increase their force, first from simple tactics of persuasion, through coercion, into violence.
The lesson of Yoga is that it is how something is done that matters most. And the means by which that something is done is "friendship." For example, if you find yourself opposed to litterbugs, simply clean up the trash. This will not only directly help the environment by protecting the water and soil from degraded petrochemicals and other chemicals, but if done through friendship inspires personal changes which can have profound effects: a friend helping you clean up the trash may learn to properly dispose of their own waste, reduce their own waste, reuse their waste, and recycle it. And manifest profound concern for the welfare of all beings. A person who learns to avoiding the use of pollutants on their lawn and in their city will soon stop polluting their body and mind, as well. The act of cleaning up trash becomes one which is praiseworthy, and worthy of emulation. This broadly impacts the community: soon, it will inspire others to do even greater things.
Such friendship is cultivated by many means. One of the most expedient means of accomplishing friendship, though, is respect of difference - especially differences of opinion. The Mahabharata teaches the youth should always consulted on any decision before their elders are. This is done for two reasons: first, should the youth hold a difference of opinion with their elders, they need not fear disrespecting their elders by openly disagreeing with their elders. When elders granted this freedom to their youth, they demonstrated respect for those who were younger and less experienced - and encourages respect in all participants. Secondly, it permits the youth to learn from their experienced elders who could lend their experience without fear of disrespecting the opinions of youth: whether the youths were agreed with or disagreed with, because the objective to understand what was right or wrong motivated all participants, the debate permitted the trust that all were seeking the same objective to mature into harmony. No matter the difference of of opinion, the truth of the matter was what mattered most.
Friendship is not won by isolation and disrespect, but by association - and respect. When an opponent is disrespected and isolated, they come to believe only force will attain their goals. When an opponent reasons that force is required, they will aggressively bring that force in one of five ways: an attack may be brought upon their leadership, the implements of their force, the means of their strength, symbols of their belief, or upon the opponent directly. These objectives are met by three aggressive forces:
- "Harm" is the attempt to destroy or weaken the opponent so that opposition is impossible. But even if an opponent were destroyed, their consent would never be obtained - this is not achieving the goal, this is not Democracy. Destruction is a form of force. And therefore results in similar counter-force.
- "Intimidation" is the attempt to compel obedience of an opponent through fear of harm. Obedience is not consent. This does not achieve the goal. Intimidation is a form of force. Even if an opponent is dissuaded by fear from objecting, this is not consent, this is not Democracy. Intimidation is a form of force which results in either similar counter-force, or Harm.
- "Ridicule" is the attempt to ignore or ridicule an opponent so as to deny their opposition. Though ignored or ridiculed, the opposition still exists. Ignorance is a form of force. This is not obtaining consent, this is not Democracy. Ignorance is a form of force which results either in similar counter-force, or Intimidation, or Harm.
These three aggressive forces result in a counter-force known as Resistance; such resistance always results in counter-resistance, more force. Which results in further resistance, more force.
Force, used aggressively or defensively, relies on strength, and strength eventually weakens. It is a mistake to trust to strength, to trust to the use of force, which will ultimately tax your strength. Consequently, a defender will attempt the use of dialogue, reason, debate and similar discourse as non-forceful means of obtaining the consent of an opponent. As the candle burning all night long illuminates the facts in a book better than the firebomb ever could, so too is the peace of a long, quiet conversation more compelling than loudly chanting threats. The effort you use in attacking your neighbor (or defending against them) is wasted: it does not accomplish the goal, and it hinders the accomplishment of the goal.
However, there are times when dialogue is impossible, and when the opponent will not debate or reason toward compromise. How, then, is respect and friendship gained? Such situations require a form of warfare called Satyagraha, the use of the force of truth: there is no counter-force for the force of truth; truth is an ultimate weapon, the means for success.
Acknowledging the opponent's wrongness is a result of their choice, a reflection of their ignorance of better ways. It allows you to believe they desire the same thing you do: the facts, the truth, the right way of doing things. This belief reflects a fundamental truth, and allows you to permit your opponent their right to freedom. Even if that freedom is exercised by continued wrong behavior. Permission is the most basic form of respect - just as freedom of choice is the most fundamental right. Understand, permitting the wrongness of the opponent does not require you violate your conscience. This allows you to consider how best to demonstrate to your opponent a better way, to help them understand the disadvantages of their choices, and the advantages of your choices.
It is much easier to discuss an issue with a friend than an opponent, and much easier to learn from a teacher who gives you the right to refuse their teaching. A strong, wise and honorable person is listened to, and even sought for advice: a poor person is never asked for a loan, or business advice; a wealthy person is always pestered by relatives, friends and strangers for loans and advice. Whoever has bad credit is never offered credit cards; if they desire credit, they will improve their finances. It is not necessary that the wealthy person force their wisdom on someone else, by presenting an example, they enrich the community. A weightlifter who is weak is rarely sought for as a trainer. An honorable person is trusted. Who would hurt their best friend?
But most fundamentally, this action of permission allows you to actually respect your opponent, and learn from them as well. They are not wholly wrong. And you are not wholly right. There is a reason for their choices, their behaviors - and their different nature. And if you will truly care about them, and desire their welfare, you must understand the reason for their behavior. You must come to respect what they love and hold dear, and never cause them harm, never ridicule or intimidate. Such ahimsa is the means by which Satyagraha is accomplished: love that your opponent loves, and you will love what they love because of their love. This will form the common ground required for trust, and that trust is the foundation of friendship - and cooperation toward accomplishing those goals you have rightly set yourself to accomplish. And toward the defense of all you hold dear.
Become the embodiment of what you want to see in your opponent; be the change you want to see in the world. Victory is the right of every Satyagrahi. Success, Yogi!