By Arun Gandhi, President, Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute, Rochester, NY
The influx of migrants into Europe and the United States, the terrorism, the increasing criminal activities are the result of the Culture of Violence that pervades human life. This chaos is only the beginning of what is going to be a torrent in the years to come. Typically, Europe has reacted with violent response. Blockade with naval ships, destroying smuggler’s boats and who knows what will follow. The question we have to ask is: Can we solve all problems with violence and force?
We look at every incident in isolation, taking it out of historical context, and want to crush it as quickly as possible and get back to our greedy, selfish life-styles. What goes around, must come around is not just a nice sounding phrase. It is reality. The centuries of exploitation of one part of the world by another is bound to have repercussions. Most of the affluent nations of the world, including the United States, did not become affluent and rich by hard work alone. It was achieved largely because of centuries of exploitation and stripping nations of their natural resources. It is now pay-back time.
We have based the concept of democracy to mean the good of a majority of people. In effect we are content if 51 per cent of the people live in affluence and 49 per cent starve to death. Gandhi discarded this as being absurd. To end strife and discontent we have to ensure the good of ALL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD – he called it Sarvodaya.
In the existing Culture of Violence we are taught to believe in nationalism, to be content with the growth of our own country at the expense of all others. This has not led to stability or security. On the contrary, it has given rise to a vast armament industry to build weapons of mass destruction to protect our corner of the world. All the weapons built must be used, the investment in these industries must be justified, so the world must be in constant strife to make the industry of death profitable. The underlying hope, as expressed by politicians everywhere, is once we get rid of all “the bad people”, the world will enjoy goodness. What we have forgotten is the Truth – that, all of us are capable of “good” and “bad” depending on the circumstances we face.
It is time we realize that the stability and security of any nation depends on the stability and security of the whole world. We are all inter-connected, inter-related and inter-dependent and unless we ensure the “Good of All” people everywhere we will never be able to live in peace. It means finding an equitable balance between materialism and morality. We cannot sacrifice one for the other. We cannot go on spending trillions of dollars on weapons of mass destruction and leave half the world starving and destitute.
We hold expensive international conferences to discuss how we will feed the population of the world 20 years from now, when we are unable to feed the existing population of the world, not because we don’t have the food but because we have no distribution system and even more atrocious is the fact that we have no moral compunction. Each country wastes billions of dollars’ worth of food every year when millions in each country live in perpetual hunger.
Almost a century ago Gandhi said the only salvation for humanity is to dismantle the Culture of Violence and replace it with a Culture of Nonviolence. While violence brings out all the worst aspects in human beings, nonviolence brings out all the laudable aspects in humanity – compassion, love, respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation. Then we will be truly civilized.