Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Soundbytes And The Depth Surrounding Them

The SoundBytes: "I do not believe in short-violent-cuts to success."

And: "I object to violence because, when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."

The Depth Behind It: In Gandhi's own words.

The link goes to copyrighted material from: Mahatma Gandhi: Selected Political Writings by Gandhi (Mahatma), Dennis Dalton. (N.B. I believe that by providing the link to the original webpage that I am keeping within the guidelines of the copyright protocol. If anyone knows anything to the contrary, I would appreciate your input.)

Reading Gandhi's words shows a depth of understanding that is seldom seen. His words are eminently sound-byte-worthy. However, what makes them even more valuable is that whatever the rhetoric contained in them, the power, the soul, and the spirit was that of a person who would not be dominated. And, yet, he refused to engage in the same swordsmanship to remove the domination because that would only perpetuate the same domination / subjugation dynamic again, and again, and again.

I also liked that he said it was an individual truth that each comes to, and upon which action and non-action is to be taken.

Truly, he was a person who was "being into the journey."


Paul said...

I read a biography of Ghandi many years ago. Sadly, I've read too few of Ghandi's actual words.

Here's the part of this passage that grabbed me: "But my creed of non-violence not only does not preclude me but compels me even to associate with anarchists and all those who believe in violence." I find this more hopeful and acceptable than some religious groups' choice to not associate with those who do not belong to their group.

SimplyTim said...

I've had several conversation over these past few days since I posted this.

The discussion, and the questions, center around:
- could this work in today's world?
- what if someone came at you and they were (insert word)...psychopathic, sociopathic, aggressively sadistic, a terrorist with a bomb attached to his body and the hand on the button, Hitler, the guards in a concentration camp, etc., etc.
- That worked in Gandhi's time and place, but the English were not coming after him with guns, knives, bombs, nuclear weapons
- you don't know what you're talking about
- but what if someone was coming after your wife, son, daughter, innocent children...,
- etc.
- are you saying that you are a passivist?
- you can't just stand there and do nothing.

All of this was very civil discussion. That gave me time to follow one of Gandhi's prime directives which is to give the other person respect and attention. It also gave me time to consider a response.

I kept hearing some of Gandhi's responses to similar questions in the passage referenced in my posting, but I tried to not just parrot what he said - but it's hard to say it better - but again, it doesn't really have any real oomph if it isn't coming from my (at that moment) truth and undersatnding.

I also kept coming back to "none of us know what is around the next bend in the road." That applies to Mr. Obama's current strategy to pick up the sword, and Mr. Gandhi's testimony to his "creed of non-violence."

I also kept remembering that he was of indominatble spirit and that he did not just sit there and do nothing. It's as if by removing the violence card, you open up to other options, very well thought out, which may have powerful effects...maybe even more powerful than the thrust of a sword.

Either way you don't know what is around the next bend in the road. Difficult questions and situations each, but, as I said in my posting, his goal was to remove the domination BUT without invoking subjugation.

When President Bush was in the W.H. he refused to speak with certain people. When Mr. Obama moved into the W.H., and during his campaign, he said: "Of course I would talk with people." Well he didn't actually say it that way, but he was open to talking.

I see bumper stickers which say: "What would Jesus do?" I wonder what Gandhi would do? I wonder what he would say / do after the attacks in Mumbai?

Yes, as Gandhi said, each person has to come to their own truth. It's not just a question of reasoning, and being good with words. It has to be direct from one person to another - but without domination.

When Jesus was in his last few days why didn't he "skip town?" He certainly knew what was coming. Was he dipping into the same pool of truth that says that violence doesn't work?

So much to ponder and wonder about and live into.


Paul said...


Many years ago when I was much younger I did contract work for Sears. On one occasion I was sent to check on a small metal building that a man had purchased and couldn't get assembled. When I arrived he was angry and aggressive, threatened to return the building and never buy from Sears in the future. Internally I felt anger in response to his aggression that was directed at me but tried to keep it hidden. I outwardly ignored his anger and said "Let's see if we can get this fixed."

After I identified the part he had installed upside down I explained the problem/solution and began removing parts and reinstalling them. In a few moments he stepped back, began to cry and said "I'm just getting too old." He was only 72. Then the real reason for his anger surfaced. His wife was in a hospital dying.

That was a memorable formative experience for me.

I suspect that behind most cases of violence are real and perceived wrongs, emotional pains and long periods of frustration. I'm prepared to go so far as to say that the attack on the WTC at it's roots was not religious but was a response to social, economic and political stimuli that occurred over many years.

Years ago I had a button that read "why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?". I think we can paraphrase that to say "why do we commit violence to show violent people that violence is wrong?".

There are extreme cases but in most cases (99%?) there are probably non-violent responses that would break the chain of violence if we acted rather than reacted.

Here's a secret that only Julie has known until now. To this day I have never watched the video of the WTC attack and aftermath. This decision was one of my choices to avoid being emotionally manipulated by the media and some of our elected leaders.

Over the last 28 years I have read more about WWII than many other subjects combined. I have read descriptions so graphic that it was painful. I don't need to see a video to know the horror. Rather, I need to ask why? How to respond? How to redeem and reconcile? How to prevent?

I'm thankful for people like Ghandi who lead by example.

Malcolm said...

Gandhi was one of those rare people who actually did "walk the walk" as well as "talk the talk" - a spiritual giant!

Sadly there are too many religious leaders who "talk the talk" and even manage to get that wrong, let alone "Walk the walk". In Gandhi the ego is relegated to insignificance (strangely he could still be a politician!).