FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Gandhi’s Lesson for Today

by KATHY KELLY

In a soon-to-be published book entitled Gandhi and the Unspeakable: His Final Experiments with Truth, Jim Douglass contrasts the deadly machinations of Gandhi’s probable killers with Gandhi’s own incredible bravery and that of his followers, whose mantra during campaigns for independence expressed their absolute commitment to resist injustice openly, lovingly and fearlessly: with their whole lives. Their mantra was “Do or die.”

By 1946, the longed-for independence of India had become a reality, but Gandhi was deeply dismayed by the slaughter taking place as Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs massacred each other.  He determined to visit the villages most affected by the violence, beginning in the Noakhali region where the population included 1,800,000 Muslims and 400,000 Hindus.  In this region, “the minority Hindus were landowners and professionals,” Douglass writes. “They had ignored grievances from Muslim workers who, incensed by tales of Hindus killing Muslims elsewhere, carried out vicious attacks.”

Gandhi and a handful of his friends fanned out, going singly to the Noakhali villages where savage butchery had taken place, and agreed to live alone, in the midst of the violence, and do their best to clean up the debris, rebuild homes and be of general service to the community.

Douglass focuses on the image of Gandhi walking 116 miles to visit 47 villages, forced to balance as precariously in travel as he had in his politics and his life:  “Walking against a background of sky and vegetation, Gandhi could be seen crossing the shankos of Noakhali, narrow bamboo bridges held high on poles.”  This trip, made at age 77, he undertook many parts of entirely alone: he and his followers were needed in too many places.

Ordinary people responded positively to the pilgrims who came into their villages. The experiment moved on to Bihar, Calcutta and eventually to New Delhi, attempting to combat the terrorism of both Hindu and Muslim ethnic violence.  Eventually, in Delhi, he undertook a final fast for Hindu-Muslim unity.  “I shall terminate the fast only when peace has returned to Delhi,” said Gandhi. “If peace is restored to Delhi it will have effect not only on the whole of India but also on Pakistan.  When that happens, a Muslim will be able to walk around in the city all by himself.”

Gandhi’s assassins were plotting violence in secret, both against Gandhi and his vision of Muslim safety in the heart of India, even as Gandhi repeatedly risked all, employing his “truth force,” the astonishing power of truth, of transparency and nonviolence, that had liberated India. What relevance do Gandhi’s tactics of choice have in these times of night raids, drone warfare, and, as the new centerpiece of our foreign policy, a tightening net of abductions and assassinations aiming to cover the globe?

Gandhi the truth-teller died at the hands of his killers, some of whom, Jim Douglass alleges, walked away scot-free under cover of self-preserving lies. Gandhi’s assassins believed they were working for the betterment of a country which Gandhi had already moved mountains to liberate, uplift, and enrich, and which they proceeded to help destroy.  I think of the United States’ tactic of seemingly universal war, to be waged indefinitely throughout a world, where no Muslim will be able to walk in safety if, according to perpetrators of Islamophobia, our nation is finally to prosper.

Consider the contrast between Gandhi’s precarious, defenseless efforts to reach his fellow humans, traveling alone and armed only with truth, and, in contrast, weigh U.S.  reliance on a massive arsenal of weapons and armed warriors, costing the world $2 billion dollars per week in lost productivity. 

   Aged Gandhi walked alone into a nightmare of fear on those bamboo bridges, and his payment for it was death, but his path was one through sunlight that redeemed his country; while his scheming jingoistic killers devised a doom for India which is still bloodily unfolding.  Many patriots claim to love the U.S.,  but the darkness and the blood will corrupt this love, will make us doom our country: our safety will not survive the determination to find it in arms, in numbers, and in the cover of night. 

   Gandhi’s solitary sunlit path, his path against the sky, was by far the less precarious.  As we may learn through occupations of town squares across the U.S., truth, and only truth, can keep the balance.

Kathy Kelly  co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org). Her book, Other Lands Have Dreams, is published by AK Press / CounterPunch.

A Version of this article was first published by the North Avenue Magazine  (Northavenuemagazine.com)


KATHY KELLY co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence and has worked closely with the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. She is the author of Other Lands Have Dreams published by CounterPunch / AK Press. She can be reached at: Kathy@vcnv.org  This article was first published on Telesur English.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Martha Durkee-Neuman
Millennial Organizers Want to See An Intersectional Understanding Of Gun Violence
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail