“I regard myself as a soldier,
though a soldier of peace”
For a generation far removed from the struggles of the freedom movement, Mahatma Gandhi seems to have been reduced to just a face in their history books and on their currency bills. Neither the high flying, tech savvy, middle class Indian on his race to compete with the rest of the world, nor his poor rural counterpart in the struggle to put food on his table, appears to have time to spare this ‘half naked fakir’ or his legacy, a thought.
Except perhaps, when – and if – they attend an independence day celebration, no doubt presided over by a local ‘Neta’ who will pay obeisance to a garlanded image of the Mahatma, to further his own political dreams.
“The things that will destroy us are: politics without
principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth
without work; knowledge without character; business
without morality; science without humanity; and
worship without sacrifice”
That hijacking his name, and his method of protest, lends legitimacy to every group – left, right or center – should be heartening, for it does imply that underneath all that apathy, lies a conviction that Gandhi was, and will always remain, a standard for exemplary moral behaviour, a beacon for truth and honesty, an apostle for peace.
“What difference does it make to the dead,
the orphans and the homeless, whether
the mad destruction is brought under the
name of totalitarianism or the holy name
of liberty or democracy?”
Today, 64 years after his death, on the anniversary of a freedom achieved at the immense human cost of partition, and the certainty of never ending conflict with our neighbour…..in an increasingly violent, selfish and self centred world, I ask myself…..can we “be the change we want to see in the world“?
“You must not lose faith in humanity.
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean
are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty”
Happy independence day to all my Indian and (24 hrs too late) to my Pakistani friends.