“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man” – Mahatma Gandhi
October 2nd is celebrated as International Day of Non-Violence, when I grew up in India we celebrated this as a public holiday as Gandhi was born this same day in 1869. In schools we spent the week leading up to this day writing essays/poems or drawing paintings about Gandhi or World peace. Gandhi was a symbol and a movement in himself; he preached so many things and lived by example, Non-Violence is one of them. Gandhi had to fight the British, work with social issues from an ancient Indian civilization, keep Hindu-Muslim unity at a very sensitive time. He found a powerful weapon in Non-violence.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” his famous words and true to these words Gandhi was always changing how he thought, how he spoke, how he wrote and how he behaved all his life. From an Inner temple lawyer educated at University College London to the fight the British Empire at its peak with Non-violence, civil disobedience. The more he traveled, read and got to know Tolstoy, Ruskin and Thoreau he changed his opinion on so many things and lived by it. With his understanding of ancient Indian literature and religion, he developed his method of Non-violence. Using no-force, threat, intimidation or anger is a foundation to this policy even if the opposing party uses all of them. It was so powerful that it broke the conscious of the British people and the Empire had no option but to agree to grant independence to the Indian sub-continent.
Gandhi pretty much was a centrist and he got criticized by people all across the spectrum for his policies in India during his lifetime and its part of his legacy. He couldn’t represent any one section or group of the society as he personified the whole Independence movement. He is so complex to understand if you read about him just in few sentences, he symbolized an ideology where you cannot disagree and agree on everything. We just have to find common ground then agree or disagree. This is core for his strategy of Non-violence.
Gandhi inspired Mandela, Dr. King and many more people. We may be or may not be inspired by what Gandhi did but we can effect change in our lives in a profound way to inspire others and be great members of the society. Due to recent events and on various issues our societies are divided and Gandhi’s nonviolence philosophy can be the greatest lesson for all of us to find common ground and resolve things through dialogue and mutual respect.
“All the alterations I have made in my course of life have been effected by momentous occasions; and they have been made after such a deep deliberation that I have hardly had to regret them.” – Mahatma Gandhi
We can effect change in our lives in a profound way to inspire others and be great members of the society. As Dr. King said – “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” and we should stand-up for rights of all people. Can we be the change we want to see?