To commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence observed on the 2nd of October in honour of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi who turns 150 this year, we reflect on the unique message propounded by this global icon of peace.
Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the lawyer, politician, writer and social activist was bestowed the title “Mahatma” (circa 1914) which means “Great Soul” for leading the non-violence movement in India against the British rule, gaining independence for the nation. Throughout human history, Gandhi has inspired many notable world leaders including Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and in more recent times former president Barack Obama with the concept of non-violence (ahimsa in Sanskrit).
To honour his ideals of mutual understanding and equality, here are some of Gandhi’s famous teachings.
1. “Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment”
The power of tolerance and love conquers all. Throughout his life, Mahatma Gandhi created a revolution and transformed the perceptions of millions around the world to fight against injustice with peaceful means and non-violence. He believed that fighting for humanity includes addressing concerns of those who do not conform to a particular cause. Our differences can be resolved if only we have the courage to deal with opposing views in a constructive manner.
2.“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no cause that I am prepared to kill for.”
The power used to inflict pain and violence on others is not a sign of true strength. The strength of courage lies in self-sacrifice for the benefit of humanity. Mahatma Gandhi gave up his law practice in Durban, South Africa to share in the sorrows of India’s masses. His principle of altruism captured the hearts of many including his opponents during the British rule for the indomitable will to serve a greater cause without exerting power or resorting to violence.
3. “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind”
History has witnessed wars and human conflicts that have inflicted pain and sorrow on the citizens of the world. Diplomacy and compassion is integral in resolving disputes and promoting a new way of life – one of peace and harmony. At the end of the day, our desires and aspirations as humans are the same – to raise our families well and live life to the fullest. Our cultural and religious differences should not be invoked to create conflict that only breeds negativity and contempt which ultimately results in the destruction of the human race.
And last but not least….
4. “We must become the change we want to see in the world”
A true leader is one who leads by example. As citizens of the world, all of us have a shared responsibility to do our part in making a difference – be it a small gesture of kindness on a daily basis.
Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of non-violence, equality, justice and tolerance continues to inspire us to become champions of peace and love for all.
*Featured image sourced from news.un.org (Commemorative stamps by the UN Postal Administration features a painting of Mahatma Gandhi by Ferdie Pacheco for International Day of Non-Violence 2009)