Reflection: Gandhi on the Anniversary of his Death
[Below is a reflection on Gandhi by Art Laffin from the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker House in Washington DC]
Today is the anniversary of Gandhi's assassination. At our weekly Dorothy Day Catholic Worker sponsored Pentagon vigil this morning, I prayed in gratitude for Gandhi's life--for all he did to show the world the transforming power of nonviolence and the use of nonviolent resistance as a means to bring about revolutionary change. Gandhi is best known for espousing the nonviolent philosophy of "ahimsa" (Sanskrit term meaning "nonviolence" or "non-injury" -- literally: the avoidance of himsa: violence) and "satyagraha" (literally translated "insistence on the truth"), and for leading a civil disobedience campaign which ended British rule of India.
Gandhi's commitment to nonviolence and resistance was deeply influenced by Jesus as evidenced by his belief that: "Jesus was the most active resister known perhaps to history. This was nonviolence par excellence."
As one of the most influential figures in modern social and political activism, Gandhi considered the following traits (seven deadly sins) to be the most spiritually perilous to humanity:
Wealth without Work
Pleasure without Conscience
Science without Humanity
Knowledge without Character
Politics without Principle
Commerce without Morality
Worship without Sacrifice
Living in a society and world where violence and killing have tragically become the norm, where the U.S. is the world's preeminent nuclear superpower, the following quotes from Gandhi point the way to creating a culture of nonviolence.
"The first condition of nonviolence is justice all round in every department of life."
"Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of (hu)mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."
"Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the human heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being."
"Nonviolence is the only thing the atom bomb cannot destroy...Unless now the world adopts nonviolence, it will spell certain suicide for (hu)mankind."
"If there were no greed, there would be no occasion for armaments. The priciple of nonviolence necessitates complete abstention from exploitation in any form...Real disarmament cannot come unless the nations of the world cease to exploit one another."
"My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to to develop nonviolence. The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes till it overwhelms your surroundings and by and by might oversweep the world."
Mohandas Gandhi, prophet of nonviolence, pray for us!