My last post was 11 days ago. It’s strange being back in the US. I live in a rich country , we have houses with good roofs and plumbing. Trash is picked up and animals do not wander the streets leaving excrement on the pavement.
I just celebrated Thanksgiving with family and we ate a lot of great food. We had the turkey and then indulged in a variety of desserts. We were warm, cozy and sat on comfy chairs and slept between clean sheets and blankets.
But my country is stressed and angry. It is severely divided. Life expectancy is dropping as suicides and drug use increase. We are in trouble.
On my tour, we stopped at Raj Ghat, to see the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial.
And then we went on to The Gandhi Remembrance Museum.
It was the first few days of my journey in India and I had jet lag. I tried to put Gandhi in the context of what I knew about him. I was awed by his greatness. Reading and observing as much as I could in the museum, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of his life and his message.
I smuggled Gandhi home with me. I have unpacked him into my mind and heart and like any souvenir from a wonderful trip, I have come to treasure him. Taking the time to quietly study in my own environment, free from schedules and excursions, I am getting to know him well. And I wonder, can his message, his brand of leadership, be applied to our country in its present state of disarray?
Gandhi saw his life as a journey as he went through a number of stages and identities that finally gave him his valuable purpose.
During his childhood, Gandhi lived in a rural part of india. His family was in one of the lower castes and considered lower middle class. In his large family he was his mother’s favorite child and she was able to instill in him Hindu values including fasting, self control, and ahimsa (nonviolence).
Next came his emulating stage, his desire to become a English gentleman. In 1890 at age 21 , he went to London to study law. He loved the precision of British law and its ability to uphold an empire.
He became a very successful lawyer and quite wealthy and in 1906 became a barrister in Johannesburg , South Africa, part of the British Empire. It was there that Gandhi relinquished his loyalty to the crown. He witnessed apartheid, blatant racial discrimination and decided that Britain should not rule his people in India anymore.
He returned to India to promote Satyagraha, his concept of the firm adherence to truth and love in the form of civil nonviolent resistance.
The Amritsar Massacre on April 13, 1919 was a turning point in his life. It was a Hindu holiday and 10,000 men, woman and children were gathered in a walled off square the size of a football field to celebrate. The British, fearing that a gathering so big would lead to trouble, had their soldiers mount the walls and start shooting. 400 people were killed and 1500 wounded.
A militant Indian group wanted to retaliate with terrorism against the British but Gandhi stepped in as leader of a different approach, civil nonviolence.
“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”- Gandhi
Gandhi simplified his whole life, even in the way he dressed, and devoted the rest of his life to nonviolence and helping India gain independence.
In my next blog post, I will write about Gandhi’s Salt March and what we might learn from him that could help our country in these troubled times.
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