The letters presented here in English and Chinese are
about rejecting war and about non-violence. They are also relevant and inspiring for other reasons. I will mention two, especially valid for our times.
The first is
the primacy of conscience over unjust laws. The Letters teach us how to develop
a free and critical conscience, and to reject blind obedience to human authorities.
We have the right to civil disobedience, to disobey unjust or criminal orders: obedience
is no longer a virtue!
The second lesson is the rejection of nationalism, and
any ideology of violence. "If you persist in claiming the right to divide the world
into Italians and foreigners, then I must say that I
have no Homeland. I would then want the right to divide the world
into disinherited and oppressed on one side, and privileged and oppressors on the
other. At least in the choice of weapons
we are much better than you. The arms that you condone are horrible devices of war
to kill, to mutilate, to destroy, to make widows and orphans
The only weapons I condone are noble and bloodless: the strike and the ballot."