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Gandhi’s grandson shares message of nonviolence

At age 12, Arun Gandhi was not the ideal of nonviolence. After being beaten by whites for being too black and then by blacks for being too violent, he wanted an eye for an eye.

It was then that Arun Gandhi’s parents decided he should learn from his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi. Arun Gandhi was sent to India where he spent 18 months living and working with his grandfather, learning his philosophy of non-violence.

“Now I use that [philosophy] in my own life and try to help others understand it,” began Arun Gandhi in his speech last Thursday night in the Anheuser-Busch Auditorium.

As the crowd of more than 200 students, staff and faculty listened, the gray-haired man shared this philosophy of nonviolence by relating his experiences with Gandhi.

Throughout the evening, Arun Gandhi stressed the importance of understanding anger and learning how to deal with it positively. “Anger is a wonderful thing, but only if we use it intelligently,” he said.

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Drawing a comparison to electricity, Arun Gandhi explained how anger in its raw form is destructive, like electricity, but when harnessed for good, both anger and electricity can have numerous benefits.

In order to understand and control one’s anger, Arun Gandhi advised the audience to create an anger journal, where one would write their anger, but also write the solutions and the commitment to resolving the problem.

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Arun Gandhi spoke of the mental training necessary to have control over emotions. He told of one time when Gandhi decided to raise money for one of his charities by selling autographs for $5 a piece. It was his grandson’s job to collect the autograph books and money from the audience.

One day, Arun Gandhi decided he wanted an autograph from his grandfather, so he slipped his own autograph book into the pile. When Gandhi noticed it lacked the $5, Gandhi asked for the money. Arun Gandhi decided he would not pay for his grandfather’s autograph but would eventually get it through sure will.

He tells of barging in on his grandfather during important meetings with British officials and asking for his autograph. Rather than erupt in anger or give in to his grandson just to get rid of him, Gandhi quietly pulled Arun Gandhi close to him and covered his mouth casually.

Arun Gandhi continued with another lesson he learned from his grandfather: “All of us are violent in various different ways.”

He tells the story of throwing away a small pencil one day after school. Gandhi made his grandson search for 3 hours to find the pencil. From that pencil, Gandhi taught his grandson that even something simple like a pencil uses many resources of the world, thus causing violence against nature. Discarding it also is violence against humanity because much of society overconsumes resources that others will never be able to use.

“All the little things we do everyday, conscious and unconscious, . every time we do something like this, we are contributing to violence in society,” Arun Gandhi said.

The speech continued with an explanation of physical violence, which everyone understands, and passive violence, hurting others through our actions and inactions.

“We practice passive violence everyday . and that generates anger in the victim and the victim then explodes in physical violence,” he said. “So it is passive violence that fuels physical violence . we are constantly fueling the fire.”

Speaking of passive violence, Arun Gandhi highlighted the disparities between the affluent part of the world and the poor part. He told a story that Gandhi often told to those who believed they could make no difference in this disparity.

Gandhi told of a man who noticed another man throwing starfish into the sea, for the tide had gone out, stranding thousands on the beach. The first man asked the second why he would bother trying to save them when he could never save them all. The second man simply replied, “It makes a hell of a difference to this one.”

Arun Gandhi summarized the story, “Everyone of us that changes and makes a differences in our families and our neighborhood [will have a] ripple effect [and] eventually change the whole world.”

In order to see that change, Arun Gandhi said parents must be willing to make sacrifices with their children, rather than just punish them. “In non-violence, there is no punishment; there is penance,” he said.

He told of being 16-years-old and traveling into town with his father one day. His father was attending a conference, while Arun Gandhi would run some errands and enjoy the day in town. After watching a double feature John Wayne movie, Arun Gandhi was more than an hour late to pick up his father. Rather than tell the truth, he lied and was caught in the lie. His father believed that he must have gone wrong somewhere in raising his son to lie, and so his father decided to think about it as he walked home-18 miles home.

Not wanting to leave his father alone in the dark walking through fields and country roads, Arun Gandhi followed behind him in the car, taking more than 5 hours to get home.

“If I would have just suffered punishment, I would have shrugged my shoulders and kept doing it,” Arun Gandhi admitted. “But this was a powerful lesson that is still fresh in my mind today.”

Arun Gandhi concluded the speech with a story about grain. The grain, like peace, must be allowed to interact with the elements in order to grow and spread. Peace, he said, demands interaction in order to flourish.

“I come here to give you that grain of wheat,” he concluded.

The speech was sponsored by Student Government Association Great Issues Committee, Saint Louis University’s School of Law, Student Bar Association, International law Society, Public Interest Law Group, Employment Law Student Association, Master of Social Work Association and Women Law Students Association.

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    2serve4ChristApr 16, 2024 at 3:38 pm

    Beautiful wisdom that should required teaching in schools, corporations, churches, etc…