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The power of peace

 Mahandas “Mahatma” Gandhi was a wise man who taught his grandson, Dr. Arun Gandhi, some vital life lessons. The younger Gandhi shared some of those lessons Saturday during two lectures titled “Lessons Learned from My Grandfather” at Magness Library.
 The elder Gandhi used non-violent, civil disobedience to lead his country, India, to independence and inspired a move for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world. He was also named by Time magazine as Man of the Year in 1930 and the magazine named him the No. 1 political icon of all-time in 2011.
Dr. Gandhi said his grandfather was a simple and honest man. “He did not ask anyone to do what he would not do. He practiced what he preached. His motto was ‘My life is my message,’” said Dr. Gandhi.
 Dr. Arun Gandhi was born in South Africa where the color of his skin created problems. Dr. Gandhi said he was not accepted by whites because his skin was too black and he was not accepted by blacks because his skin was too white. He said he was beaten up several times simply because of his skin. Dr. Gandhi left South Africa at the age of 12 to live in India with his grandfather.
 Dr. Gandhi said the first lesson he learned from his grandfather was, “Anger is just like electricity. It is just as powerful and just as useful, but only if we use it intelligently. It can be just as deadly and just as destructive if we abuse it. We need to learn how to channel anger so we can use that energy for the good of humanity.”
Dr. Gandhi said his grandfather suggested for him to write an anger journal. He said, “Don’t act on your anger. But write it in an anger journal with the intention of finding a solution to the problem. Then commit yourself to finding the solution.”
Dr. Gandhi said he kept a journal for many years and it helped him to deal with his anger in a more positive and constructive way.
 Dr. Gandhi told of meeting a member of South Africa’s parliament who supported apartheid, belonged to the nationalist party, and was an outspoken racist.
“I held him responsible for the humility I suffered,” Dr. Gandhi said. “My first reaction to meeting him was to tell him to go jump in the ocean. I did not do that, however, as I knew my parents and grandparents would never forgive me. I responded with friendship and told him I was a victim of apartheid and was forced to live in India because the South African government would not allow me to bring my wife to their country.”
 For five days Gandhi, and his wife visited with the official and his wife. “I was trying to understand how he could justify apartheid and he was trying to get me to understand why he agreed with apartheid. When we left them, he and his wife embraced us and with tears streaming down their cheeks and said, ‘You have opened our eyes to the evils of apartheid and I’m making a promise that I’m going to go back and fight apartheid,’” said Dr. Gandhi. “He did change. He spoke against apartheid so much he was thrown out of his party, and he lost his next election. He remained convinced in his convictions that apartheid must go. That incident showed me how important it is for non-violent ways to take root in our society. I wonder if I had given way to my initial reaction of wanting to insult and abuse him, I don’t think he would have changed. He would have remained a racist. By responding the way I did, non-violently and peacefully, it was able to transform this man. That is the power of non-violence. That is what my grandfather meant by channeling your anger to non-violent ways.”
 Dr. Gandhi said, “We get angry and we blow up and we say things and we do things and regret it later on. Today our prison system is filled with young people who acted in a moment of madness. If you go and ask them, they all want to go and take that moment back. But once you have done it, there is nothing you can do to take it back. It’s very important for anybody who wants to practice non-violence to learn how to deal with their anger. We don’t deny anger. We don’t suppress anger. But, we channel that energy into positive, constructive energy.”
 Dr. Gandhi said many people want to create peace in the world but do not know how to go about creating peace. “Some people try to create peace through fear. They put fear in the minds of people and feel that if they fear us we will not attack you and we can all live in peace. Others think if we don’t have any fighting in the streets or if we don’t have any wars going on, then we are living in peace. None of these visions are true. My grandfather said the only way we can live in peace is through non-violence.”
 Dr. Gandhi said his grandfather practiced non-violence in his life despite the fact violence has been prevalent for centuries.
“He came to the conclusion we are dominated by a culture of violence, that every aspect of our lives including our language, our entertainment, our sports, our relationships, everything is violent. If we have that kind of culture of violence that controls us and dominates us, then creating peace in that kind of an atmosphere is virtually impossible. The only way we can really create peace is by replacing the culture of violence with a culture of non-violence,” said Dr. Gandhi. “My grandfather believed if we don’t transform ourselves and become better human beings, we can’t practice non-violence and if we can’t practice non-violence, we can’t practice peace in the world.”
 Dr. Gandhi said we face situations every day and we may say things and do things and blow up at someone and the decisions we make can sometimes change the course of our lives completely. “Remember, we are here for a purpose which is to enhance this world and make it a better place,” he said.
 The lectures were sponsored by the McMinnville Rotary clubs. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the children sponsored by the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute. The majority of these children have worked for slave labor and had never been to school before being rescued from child labor by volunteers with the institute. Dr. Gandhi said $340 will feed, clothe, provide shelter, and medical and dental care for a child for an entire year at the school.
More information about the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute can be found at www.gandhiforchildren.org.


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