Six months ago, in this same space, we proposed replacing the national motto with one that discarded violence as a way of relating to each other or of resolving conflicts and looking to the long term, because “what can we expect from children who grow up hearing that it is by reason or force?
The process for a new Constitution opened up a possibility to enshrine in our institutionality a new national motto that lays the foundations for a society that embraces the cause of nonviolence. At the beginning of January our Popular Initiative of Norm was declared admissible (N°20.168) and in a position to be supported: Replace the current national motto “By reason or by force” with the new one “By the force of reason”.
Formal support has been scarce, but there has been a fruitful exchange of opinions on social networks, where we have made a mini advocacy campaign and in which the main conclusions of that dialogue I summarise below.
The proposal of nonviolence, understood as a personal conduct of not harming another person under any circumstances, is a long road full of obstacles, the most difficult being those cultural changes that promote dialogue and understanding.
The use of force to impose a particular position of power is legitimised and resorted to with little or no opportunity for dialogue and reason. Opinions are mostly expressed from an ideological position, justifying the use of force either to maintain the established order or to challenge it.
In the realm of personal relationships, for example, in the family or in education, it is evident that the overwhelming majority have been victims of violence (use of force), and opinions are divided between those who, as a result of their experience, embrace the cause of nonviolence, while others justify it and evaluate themselves as good people, precisely because they have been “corrected” by this behaviour.
But there is another group who, in order to oppose this proposed Constitutional norm made through formal channels in a democratic process, disqualify it through violent language, claiming that they are doing so in defence of history and patriotic traditions.
Finally, there are those who point out that they do not want to waste time in sterile discussions that lead to nothing, when there are other important issues to deal with and so little time to do so.
The road to nonviolence is a long one and we hope that a new national motto “By the force of reason” will be the guiding principle. The deadline for supporting this or other initiatives is 1 February at https://plataforma.chileconvencion.cl/.