Happy Gandhi DayPosted: October 2, 2008 | |
Dedicated to my friend Jon
He was a strange duck, no doubt about that. Had he lived today he would be taken to task for his sexism. His poor wife didn’t have that much say in their relationship. There was no doubt that he was something of a religious fanatic, although there are those who insist that he’s a saint. There is no doubt of the profound effect he still has in the world, and we have not yet seen the full effect of his life and works.
Today, Gandhi has become a stereotype. He has become another dead person who is shamefully used by the establishment. Who can forget the callous Apple commercials that portrayed a picture of Gandhi with the words “think different”? Of course, what the observer was supposed to think about was MacIntosh Computers. Born again preachers will invoke his name as readily as neocon politicians to support ideas Gandhi would never have agreed with.
This only succeeds in keeping Gandhi in the public mind. This is something that preachers and politicians may live to regret. Gandhi remains a powerful symbol in the public mind. You can stick his picture on a billboard to sell computers, but he remains the man who liberated India. He did so without firing a shot. As a young attorney in South Africa, Gandhi was the man who began resistance against Apartheid. True, Apartheid did not fall until about forty years after his death, but Gandhi was the pebble that began the avalanche. Had Gandhi not challenged the South African marriage laws and won, there would have been no victories for Steven Biko and Nelson Mandela to follow.
Gandhi is a constant reminder that you do not need a gun to stand up against injustice. You do not have to use violence to make your point. You do not have to make war to be free. Courage and determination are what creates freedom. Independence is not won through battle but through negotiation. Gandhi forced the authorities in South Africa to recognize non-Christian marriages. Gandhi forced the British to the table and negotiated British withdrawal from India. In both cases, Gandhi did not lift a gun. He did not threaten harm to anyone, South African White or British Raj.
Where would the Libertarian movement be if Gandhi’s example begins to catch on? Where would their Second Amendment mania get them, except to show what a dangerous anachronism Libertarianism is? Would the FBI be able to create another Weather Underground if the left really embraces the principles of nonviolence? What would have happened if we acted like Gandhi after the Sept. 11th attack? What would have happened if we had listened to the other side? I suspect that quite a lot of oil profits would be going towards reparations and that bin Laden would be in an American prison right now.
If Gandhi has taught us anything, it is that the person who shoots first loses. Apply this lesson to the war in Afghanistan. Oh, how the American public cheered as Chimpy McFlightsuit sent the troops to the Middle East. It was called “definitive action”. I once spent an afternoon listening to an acquaintance tell me the horror that is now Kabul. He told me how he sent his young cousin to school, just to have the boy return dead in a neighbor’s arms half an hour later. Two years later we invaded Iraq. Would that have happened if we had adopted the principles Gandhi taught us?
There are no good wars. There are no wars that could not be prevented. Even World War Two could have been prevented had the world put its foot down in Hitler’s early days. The two wars that America is currently involved in would certainly have been prevented if we as a nation had kept Gandhi in mind. Perhaps it’s good that the preachers and politicians invoke Gandhi’s name for their own purposes. It’s good to keep reminding us of what Gandhi stood for. Maybe if we are reminded enough times, we might catch on. Then when the next idiot wants to attack the next nation, we will tell him to get stuffed.