Nonviolence works, Gandhi's grandson says
Peace advocate spoke at Luther College
Arun Gandhi, internationally known ad-vocate of nonviolent resolution of political and social conflicts, told a Luther College Center for Faith and Life capacity audience that believing in the power of peaceful resistance could become the “light that will expel the darkness surrounding our world.”
Gandhi, grandson of legendary spiritual leader Ma-hatma K. Gandhi, presented the Luther College Farwell Distinguished Lecture Sep-tember 19 in Decorah, Iowa. More than 1,500 students, faculty and community members attended.
His presentation focused on the principles of peace, respect, self-sacrifice and patience that he learned from his grandfather. Those lessons aided him in understanding the philosophy of nonviolence that Mahatma Gandhi used to free his native India from oppressive British rule and resolve conflicts between India’s diverse religious and political factions.
These were lessons that Gandhi remains convinced can be used to resolve the many violent and destructive situations in today’s war-torn world.
He emphasized the im-portance of becoming the change you wish to see in the world, stating that if you are truly against something, you must do something about it, not just confine your beliefs to private conversations. If everyone waits for someone else to do something, nothing ever changes.
“If you are really against the war,” Gandhi remarked, “then join the people who are protesting. Go out and show yourself.”
Gandhi, now a resident of Rochester, New York, encourages citizens of the United States to begin to take action, noting that many other countries have the “impression that the people of the United States are living in isolation. But we are compassionate and we do care about the world, we just don’t show it.”
Now, Gandhi maintains, is the time to show it.
Gandhi described his philosophy of nonviolence not as a passive philosophy of inaction, as it is often viewed, but rather as an “engaged and loving commitment to peace and justice.”
Gandhi warned against the misinterpretation of the philosophy of nonviolence as solely a means of reaching a goal.
“Nonviolence is a culture, not a strategy,” Gandhi said. “It is not a tool to be used when convenient and discarded. It is a culture to imbibe and to live.”
He called for the movement away from the culture of violence that is pervading the world and toward this culture of nonviolence. One of the principles of this culture is the importance of understanding anger and channeling the energy of that anger towards positive actions.
Additionally, Gandhi placed much importance on the manner in which relationships today are formed and held: too often they are made only out of self-interest. He sees as one of the principle causes of today’s conflicts the lack of respect between people, and says only by maintaining respect for others can there ever be peace in the world.
Gandhi feels that too often emphasis is placed on tolerance between people, a policy he finds negative because it allows people to tolerate others without actually respecting them.
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Steinberg is a public information intern at Luther.