The Culture of Violence

Posted by on May 9, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

wsb_308x492_Arun+Gandhi+photoA materialistic society can survive only by adopting a Culture of Violence to control the vast majority of people who are exploited.  We are caught in the cycle of fear and violence each feeding on the other.  This Culture of Violence is destroying humanity just as cancer kills human beings.  Is the Culture of Violence normal human behavior?

India’s legendary leader and my grandfather,  Mahatma Gandhi, believed human beings are not inherently evil, but are forced to act violently because of ignorance.  In frustration and anger we allow strangers to determine the fate of our lives and before we know it our lives lie shattered in the dust.

At the age of 24 Gandhi faced humiliation and violence in South Africa because of the color of his skin.  He was moved to anger and could have reacted violently but, he thought, that is not civilized behavior.  He was not going to allow someone filled with hate and violence to determine his destiny.  He discovered nonviolence, focusing on the problem rather than on the person.  We kill each other to resolve problems, yet problems persist while people perish.

The Culture of Nonviolence was his answer.  It is not a weapon to use when convenient but a way of personal transformation.  If we don’t change our evil habits we cannot create peace in the world.  We have failed to create peace because we have been trying to create something we don’t know what it looks like.

Gandhi spinning 1920s When I was a 12 year old boy and a victim of hate and prejudice and violence in South Africa my parents sent me to live with grandfather and learn the Culture of Nonviolence from him.  Gandhi gave me the Legacy of Love that transformed my life. 

Often major problems can be resolved by simple actions.  Like when Grandfather told me that anger is like electricity, it is useful only if we use the energy intelligently but it is deadly when we abuse it.  Anger is at the root of 85 per cent of the violence we experience because we abuse the energy rather than channel it into constructive action.  We can destroy objects and even our lives because of anger but does that help resolve the problem that caused the anger?  NO, it does not because we don’t address the problem at all. 

Gandhi also taught me that every life has a meaning.  We are not born to exist from birth to death.  We must make our life meaningful not just to ourselves but for everyone we come in touch with.  We can only live meaningfully if we attempt to transform our weaknesses into strengths.  Our education in schools is incomplete because it does not teach us about our character, about our relationships with each other, about Life and what does living mean.  This part of education has to come from personal experiences and endeavor.  Life is an endless process of education and enlightenment.  We can ignore it and exist meaninglessly, or we can learn an become enlightened human beings. 

Gandhi_Tolstoy_FarmAgain, my grandfather taught me a simple lesson.  We commit more passive violence than physical violence.  What is passive violence?  It is the kind of violence where we don’t use any physical force but what we do or what we don’t do hurts someone directly or indirectly.  Discrimination, oppression, judging people are some aspect of passive violence.  There are many others too, like wasting food, over consuming and so on.  Gandhi made me build a genealogical tree of violence with Physical Violence and Passive Violence as the two branches.  Every day before I went to bed I had to analyze and examine everything I had experienced during the day and put it down on the tree.  I found that within a few months the passive violence branch grew enormously.  That, Gandhi said, is the problem with the world today.  We commit so much passive violence that it generates anger in the victim and the victim gets angry and resorts to violence in an attempt to get justice.  So, it is passive violence in individuals and societies that fuels the fire of physical violence.  Logically, therefore, we can only put out the fire if we cut-off the fuel supply and since we feed the fire we have to Become the Change We Wish to See In The World. 

Here is Gandhi’s talisman:   Whenever you are in doubt or when the Self becomes too much with you, apply the following test:

Recall the face of the poorest and weakest human being whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to the person.  Will that person gain anything by it?  Will it restore him to a control over his life and destiny?  In other words, will it relieve him or her of the spiritual and physical hunger that is destroying their lives?

Then you will find yourself and your ego melting away.   

So, I am now proudly passing on the Legacy of Love to the next generation and to people everywhere who wish to live in peace and harmony.  We can build peace when we know what it looks like.

Arun Gandhi at Sunanda Memorial School Avani KolhapurArun Gandhi  – The 5th Grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, Arun Gandhi was born in Durban South Africa. Dr. Gandhi was sent by his parents to India when he was 12 years old so that he could live with and learn from his grandfather. It was there he learned the principles of non-violence that he continues to espouse today. Dr. Gandhi spent much of his adult life in India inspiring massive social and economic changes for oppressed families and children.After coming to the United States in 1987, he started the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in 1991 and in 2008 Dr. Gandhi started the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, with its mission to build basic education schools for the very poor children of the world. Dr. Gandhi has taken the message of nonviolence and peace-making to hundreds of thousands of high school and university students throughout the United States and much of the Western world, and has authored several books.

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