Gandhi Paper “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” (Gandhi). It seems like I’ve heard this quote a million times in my lifetime, but the meaning behind it didn’t set in until now. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a world renowned political and spiritual leader and arguably one of the most influential people of all time. He pioneered ‘satyagraha’, the resistance of tyranny through non-violence and believed in and stood by this even in the most extreme circumstances.
His actions not only led to Indian independence, but it sparked the civil rights movement here in America and Nelson Mandela used Gandhi’s non-violent methods to help end apartheid in South Africa. These weren’t the only situations where non-violence succeeded either, Khan Abdule Ghaffar Khan, Steve Biko, Aung San Suu Kyi and Benigno Aquino, Jr. used Gandhi’s non-violent tactics to win out over their enemies. Aquino even succeeded in freeing his Philippine people from the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.
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All of these victorious situations show us that non-violence does work, but only in certain circumstances. I could be naive and say that non-violence is a plausible solution to the world’s problems today, but I’d be lying to you and to myself as well; and in the following paragraphs I’m going to elaborate on my views. First of all, the majority of the problems that non-violence has solved in the past were centered on people ignorantly accepting racism and people being suppressed by non-desirable governments. As I stated earlier, Benigno Aquino, Jr. sed the non-violent approach to free his people from the dictator leadership of Ferdinand Marcos. And in South Africa Nelson Mandela had to deal with both of racism and a non-desirable government since the country’s government was a strong supporter of apartheid. Another common denominator in all these situations is that the problem is within a country. Yes, they used the non-violent approaches that Gandhi taught about, but they focused their energies on correcting the wrongs their small section of the globe.
I’m going to have to agree with Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “The ‘turn-the-other-cheek’ philosophy and the love-they enemies’ philosophy…were only valid when individuals were in conflict with other individuals” (D’Souza). I think that theory, Gandhi’s theory only works when it involves a small community, like a country. The situation we have globally is clouded by so many excuses and too corrupt for the ‘turn-the-other-cheek’ theory. I believe that the problems we have globally boils down to egos and the ‘my-god-is-better-than-your-god’ syndrome.
I might be a conspiracy theorist, but I think that what it all boils down to are leaders trying to prove who has the biggest cahones and putting their citizens in danger in order to do so. It’s the citizens who are out fighting. But for what? Oil? Democracy? Religion? The world may never know. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with all the reasons behind the various wars that are being raged now, but I don’t think that the non-violence approach would work either. Because in order for it to work people would have to admit that they were wrong about things, and no one wants to do that.
I wish that the non-violence approach could be a plausible solution for the situation in the world today, but I know that as long as leaders are willing to use their citizens as pawns instead of sorting out issues themselves it won’t. Works Cited D’Souza, Placido P.. “Commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. : Gandhi’s influence on King”. San Francisco Chronicle January 20, 2003 Gandhi, M. K.. For Pacifists. Ahmedabad, India: Navajivan Publishing House, 1949 Hardiman, David. Gandhi in His Time and Ours. Columbia University Press, 2004. Pal, Amitabh. “A Pacifist Uncovered – Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Pakistani pacifist”. The Progressive February 2002: