Tonight I finally watched Ghandi – a truly incredible film directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Ben Kingsley. Perhaps we all know a bit about who Ghandi was and what he did, but this movie really shed light on so much for me. A role model, he was and is for us all as human beings. Amidst a world so obsessed with tackling problems with violence, Ghandi shows us the power in nonviolence. He was able to lead a movement towards India’s independence from an oppressive British empire, with the tool of peaceful non-cooperation. And when this mission went astray, when violence did break-out, he responded by fasting. He would simply stop eating until the violence stopped.
Most crucially, Ghandi teaches us that the violence must be overcome within ourselves – in our hearts. “The Only Devils in this world are those running around inside our own hearts, and that is where all our battles should be fought.” I can only say that I must continue to reflect on those words, every day. What do those devils look like? Where do they come from? How can they be conquered?
I think the answer is love. I really do. But it isn’t easy, is it?
Ghandi reminds me that love does not sit idle. Love must not only come in the shape of praying hands. Love must move us to act. Love demands that we take action. Love is not pacifism. Love is standing for what’s right. Ghandi, and his followers, shined a light on what real love is and on the greatness it can achieve.
Just as Ghandi took a stand, so too can we. We do not have to accept the prevailing notions that war can solve the world’s problems; that violence can be justified as a means to an end – despite what our leaders (including President Obama) tell us. We have to demand better. First from ourselves, then from the world. And that includes our role in killing millions of people every year who die from poverty. Ghandi said it, “poverty is the worst form of violence.”
He challenges us to rethink everything we “know.” But he led not from a position of authority, instead from humility. He was a human being, like every one of us. Every one of us is capable of the same humanity. It begins with a radical shift in our hearts and in our minds.
I’m so thankful for this role model. I know I still have much to learn from the imprint he has left on this world.