Peace activist Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, discussed non-violence and the lessons he learned from his grandfather with more than 500 people at the University of Central Florida last week.
Gandhi’s discussion was organized by the UCF Global Perspectives Office. He began his talk by speaking about his parents’ decision to take him to India to learn from his grandfather.
One of the first lessons, Gandhi said, was how to channel his anger into positive energy. He recalled his grandfather suggesting that he begin keeping an “anger journal.” Rather than acting on his anger, the journal could help Gandhi find intelligent solutions to his problems. Gandhi said if people could learn to control half of their anger as well as his grandfather, it would make a tremendous difference in today’s world.
Gandhi then told a story from his teenage years. He had thrown away a pencil after school because he felt that it was too short to use any longer, and because he was sure that his grandfather would simply give him a new one.
However, his grandfather did not and taught him two lessons. First, Gandhi said, his grandfather told him that he had committed violence against nature because a large amount of resources are consumed to make things as simple as his pencil. Second, his grandfather explained that the younger Gandhi had committed violence against humanity by over-consuming simply because his family could afford to purchase items in bulk, while others in the world lived in extreme poverty.
Through analyzing all of the violence he encountered each day, Gandhi said he realized that he utilized a good amount of passive violence. He discussed his grandfather’s ideas about how passive violence tends to create anger in its victims, who are then more likely to resort to physical violence.
Because of this cycle, Gandhi believes that justice in our society has come to mean revenge. He asserts that justice should mean reformation, that someone who has wrong is inspired by ignorance and needs help.
Gandhi explained that he shares his grandfather’s belief that we are not independent people. We need to accept that we are interdependent and interconnected, he argued. Instead of identifying people as labels, we should identify others as human beings, and rather than simply tolerating others, we need to respect them, he said.
Gandhi closed his presentation by stating “nonviolence is not a jacket that can be put on in certain moments and taken off in others.” Non-violence needs to be completely accepted, or not accepted at all, he urged.
In addition to the Global Perspectives Office, sponsors and partners of Gandhi’s presentation included the UCF Student Government Association, the UCF Global Peace and Security Studies Program, The India Program at UCF, The Anil and Chitra Deshpande India Program Endowed Fund, The Sibille H. Pritchard Global Peace Fellowship program, the UCF Office of Diversity Initiatives, the UCF Political Science Department, the UCF International Services Center, UCF LIFE, the UCF Book Festival 2012 in association with the Morgridge International Reading Center, and the Global Connect