Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Fulfilling Gandhi's Dream at the End of the 20th Century,” Arun Gandhi

October 19, 1994

Video: “Fulfilling Gandhi's Dream at the End of the 20th Century” 

1:22:01 - Abstract | Biography


Kay Schaffer: I am Kay Schaffer. I am Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. It's my pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the College of Liberal Arts and Oregon State University to the 13th annual Ava Helen Pauling Lecture for World Peace. Tonight's lecture is entitled: "Fulfilling Gandhi's Dream at the End of the 20th Century."

I would also like to announce that as of January 1995, this series will be renamed the "Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Memorial Lecture for World Peace" in memory of the contributions of both Paulings toward world peace. At this time, I would like to introduce Dr. Roy Arnold, Provost and Executive Vice President of Oregon State University.

Roy Arnold: It is my pleasure to share with you, this evening, two new pieces of information, the first being a proclamation that was issued by Governor Roberts on October 10th at the urging of Oregon State University President, John Byrne, and the proclamation reads as follows: "Whereas Linus Carl Pauling, a native son of Oregon, is the only person to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Laureates for chemistry and for peace, and whereas Dr. Pauling's efforts to bring about world peace and the banning of nuclear weapons testing, which were carried out in spite of the disapproval of his own government, had the result of establishing a new base for world peace negotiations, and whereas Dr. Pauling's genius in chemistry provided the basis for modern chemistry and also set the stage for major discoveries that benefited humankind, and whereas Dr. Pauling was unafraid of controversy in his pursuit of the truth, and devoted his entire life to the good of humanity, now, therefore, I, Barbara Roberts, Governor of the state of Oregon, hereby proclaim February 28th, Dr. Pauling's birthday, as Linus Pauling Day in Oregon in order to recognize the life and work of this great American." This day will be recognized henceforth in Oregon and, in particular, at Oregon State University, so please join in saying thanks for this recognition.

And a second piece of news is related to the first. On the following day, on October 11th, Governor Roberts sent to President Clinton a letter which included the following paragraph: "On August 19th, 1994, people all over the world were moved by the death of Linus C. Pauling, the only person ever to achieve two unshared Nobel laureates. This letter is to urge you to recognize this great scientist and humanitarian by awarding him, posthumously, the Medal of Freedom." And it goes on, then, to outline his various contributions, and closes with: "The people of Oregon are proud of our most outstanding native son, and look forward to having him recognized by our nation." Thank you.

Kay Schaffer: It's now my pleasure to introduce a very special guest, the daughter of Ava Helen and Linus Pauling, Linda Kamb.

Linda Kamb: Well, I want to say how delighted I am to be here, to be back at Oregon State, which I know meant so much to my parents - to my father, who was here for, as you know, four years as an undergraduate and where he met my mother, and then she was here two years - and I'm delighted that this lectureship exists, and [I'm] particularly delighted now that it's going to be the Linus and Ava Helen Pauling Lectureship. And I'm speaking not just for me, but for my brothers, for my whole family. [4:53]

My father - well, I don't know if you know that I spent the last three months of his life with him, looking after him, and it was a very trying, but also close and touching time. And I could see his - well, really up to the end that he, for instance, maintained his great sense of humor. I wanted to tell you a little story about him that I told at the memorial service so you can see that he still maintained this sense of humor. I was once bringing him some therapeutic soup, and he'd had some the day before and didn't much like it. This was sent to us by someone who was determined that he was going to save his life. So then, when I brought it in the second day and I saw my father, he looked at it, and he said - and I don't know if you people remember this old New Yorker cartoon - but anyway, he looked at me [and] he said, "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it." That was the New Yorker cartoon of the mother trying to serve her son some vegetable, which he didn't like. Anyway, that was typical of my father.

I want to tell you, also - I don't know how many people know this - that he was awarded many, many medals and awards over all these years and he once said to me that he thought he got so many awards because he was working in so many different fields - in chemistry, and in medicine, and nutrition, biochemistry, anesthesiology - I mean they just went on so all these people thought they had to give him a medal to honor him. And, of course, all of these medals are coming to Oregon State, so you'll be able to see them here. At least, most of them are coming - you know, maybe I can keep one or two. But now, even in death, he seems to be getting awards. On November 9th my husband and I are going to Philadelphia to the Philosophical Society meeting, and there I'll receive, for him and for the family, the Benjamin Franklin Award for Distinguished Public Service. And then on November 6th, my brother, Crellin, is going to Erice in Sicily and will receive there, for the family, the Science for Peace Award, which is being shared with my father and six others - the others are all physicists. But anyway, I thought that was pretty nice that, even in death, he's still getting these awards.

Anyway, I want to say that my father was really hoping that he could come and he could hear Mr. Gandhi, but he was very delighted that he was speaking. I think it's wonderful that this lectureship exists and it can bring these wonderful people here, like Mr. Gandhi. Thank you.

Kay Schaffer: Gandhi. Few names in world history evoke such powerful thoughts of integrity, social harmony, and, perhaps most of all, hope.

Tonight's speaker, Mr. Arun Gandhi, is the grandson of India's late spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi. Born and raised in South Africa, Arun, like all people of color, was subjected to the daily racial persecution of an apartheid government. That upbringing, combined with a lengthy stay with his grandfather, heavily influenced the course Mr. Gandhi would set for his own life.

While working as a journalist with the Times of India, Arun created India's Center for Social Unity in 1960. His objective was to provide self-help models of commerce to communities of the untouchable class to help them break the cycle of poverty in which they exist. The endeavor was a tremendous success; it now reaches over 300 villages, affecting the lives of more than 500,000 people.

Mr. Gandhi is extremely proud of his most recent endeavor, the opening of the world's first Gandhi Center for the Study of Non-Violence at Christian Brothers College in Memphis, Tennessee.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Arun Gandhi. [10:17]

Arun Gandhi: Thank you very much. This is indeed a great honor for me to be selected [as] this year's speaker in the Ava Helen Lectureship. I followed the lives of Ava Helen and Linus Pauling as a young journalist working in Bombay, India, and I was always full of admiration for what they did during their lifetime for peace, and I tried to compare what they did and the vision that they had of a world without violence with the vision that my grandfather had, and I thought that there was so much similarity in these visions.

Today, we have come to a point when we must take stock of the sacrifices that these great people have made so that we could create a world of harmony and peace. Peace does not really mean the absence of war. Peace means that all of us should be able to live in peace and harmony in relationship with each other, not as individuals pulling in different directions, but as a society that is cohesive, as a family unit that is cohesive and is willing to make the necessary sacrifices for each other.

I had the opportunity of living with Grandfather at the age of 12-13 in 1946-47 for about 18 months. I, as you were told in the introduction, was born and brought up in South Africa, and I suffered a lot of racial humiliation there. At a very tender age of 10, I was beaten up by some white youths, and then a few months later I was beaten up by some black youths, and both the times because they didn't like the color of my skin. And this humiliation filled me with a lot of rage. I wanted to grow up and be strong and be able to beat everybody back again - the usual "eye for an eye" philosophy that we practice all the time. That's when my parents decided to take me to India and give me the opportunity of living with Grandfather and hopefully learning something from him. And I am ever grateful to my parents for having taken that decision, because I think, in many ways, the 18 months that I spent with him laid the foundations of my understanding of his philosophy.

I was also privileged to have parents who had devoted their lives to promoting non-violence. My father was the second of four sons - Grandfather didn't have any daughters - but he was the only one who decided that he was going to devote his life to continuing with the work of nonviolence that Grandfather started in South Africa. And so, you might say that I was born in a family of nonviolence and raised in that philosophy, and so it became natural for me to fall into the same groove and continue working in the field of nonviolence. [15:00]

One of the first lessons that I learned from Grandfather was how to deal with that rage that was sitting within me. He told me that anger is like electricity; if we abuse electricity, it could destroy or kill us, but if we use electricity intelligently, we can bring it into our homes and use it for the good of human beings. Similarly, anger, if we abuse it, could be very destructive, but if we use it intelligently, we could use that energy, that powerful energy, for positive purposes - to get rid of the thing that caused to the anger, to try to find a solution for that.

And he asked me to maintain an anger journal. He said, "Every time you feel the surge of anger coming up in you, don't pour it out on somebody or something; pour it out in your journal. Write a journal and put all your feelings into it, and it'll help you in two ways. First, you have a written document of your emotions. You will be able to go back to it and read and see what you could do with your anger. And second, you would be able to pour out your anger into a book without harming anybody else. And I did this for several years thereafter, and I think it helped me very substantially in being able to control my anger and devote that energy into useful purposes.

At 12, I was, like most 12-year-old boys, very mischievous - naughty in some cases - and I decided to test my Grandfather and see whether he had learned the lesson of anger.

This was a period when everybody sought his autographs. Every morning and evening, hundreds of people who would attend his prayer meetings would seek his autograph there, and he had decided to levy a fee for his autograph. He needed a lot of money for all the social programs that he undertook, and he found this a very good way of raising funds for all those projects. So he put a fee equivalent to five dollars for every autograph, and as a young boy in the entourage, I was entrusted with the work of going out into the audience and collecting the autograph books and the money, and bringing it to him for his signature.

And one day I decided that if everybody could get his autograph, why not me? So I got an autograph book and slipped it into the pile and took it to him, but he was very clever, very shrewd - he used to match the money and the autographs, then keep proper tally of it. When he came down to my book, he said, "Where's the money for this autograph?"

And I said, "There's no money because that's my book."

And he said, "Well, a rule is a rule, and I don't make exceptions even for grandchildren, so if you want an autograph, you'll have to pay for it."

I said, "No way. I'm your grandson and I'm going to get an autograph free."

Well, he said, "I'm not going to give it to you free."

And I said, "I'm challenging you and I'm going to get it free from you even if it takes me several weeks to do so."

So he laughed and he said, "Alright, let's see who wins."

And this was in 1946-47, when India was going through the period of transfer of power. The British were going to leave India. There were also these riots between the Hindus and Muslims because the British had decided to partition the country into India and Pakistan. And in the midst of all this turmoil, he was involved in discussions with the political leaders from Britain and the Indian political leaders, everybody trying to consult him about the transfer of power. [20:01]

And I used to choose those moments when he was in the midst of all these very high-powered negotiations, barge into the room with my autograph book, and demand an autograph. My logic was very simple: just to get rid of me, he would sign the book and give it to me. But instead, every time I became too boisterous he would just put his hand across my mouth and press my head against his chest and go on talking politics. The result was that I never did get that autograph. I tried for several weeks, every day, but I never got the autograph.

But I did get some of the other leaders angry. They would be exasperated with my interference all the time, and on several occasions they would complain to Grandfather, "Why don't you give him the autograph and be done with it?"

But Grandfather would say, "This is a private joke between the two of us, and you don't have to get involved in it."

So I learned, then, that he had really mastered his philosophy of anger, and that there was a lot of substance in what he was trying to teach. How many of us are faced with young children who come and disturb us when we are doing something important, and we shoo them away or we are angry with them and we scold them [and] say, "Why do you come and disturb me? Can't you see I'm in the midst of something very important?" But he never did this. He would never dismiss anybody offhand.

There were many such instances, and that's when I learned from him and from my parents, that the philosophy of nonviolence was much broader than I had thought it was. It dealt with much more than physical violence; it dealt with passive violence also. Now this is something that we don't recognize so much. We are so focused on physical violence that we put all our energies in dealing with the physical violence, but we don't focus so much on the passive violence that each one of us practices individually and collectively. All the anger, and the hate, and the prejudices, and the discrimination, and all of these things that we practice against each other all the time - that is passive violence, and it is that passive violence that causes anger in people, which then erupts into physical violence. So if we want to put an end to physical violence, if we want to create a society of peace and harmony, if we want to create a world of peace and harmony, then we have to focus on that passive violence and try to reduce that so that we can reduce the physical violence.

Now this lesson also came to me in a very strange way through a little three-inch butt of a pencil. During that period in 1946 when I was living with him, I wasn't going to a regular school, so he had arranged with somebody to give me private tuition, and he had given me a notebook and a pencil to do my lessons with. And one day when the pencil became a three-inch butt, I threw it away and I decided I deserved a new pencil, so I went to Grandfather and I said, "Give me a new pencil." I thought that, like most grandparents, he would reach out and get a new pencil from the drawer and give it to me. Instead, he subjected me to a lot of questioning. He wanted to know how did the pencil become so small? Why did you throw it away? And on and on and on. And I couldn't understand why he was making such a great fuss over a little pencil. Eventually, he said to me, "You'll have to go out and look for this pencil." [25:03]

And I tried to make the excuse, I said, "It's six o'clock in the evening; it's getting dark outside. You don't expect me to look for a little bit of a pencil in the dark?"

He said, "That's no problem - here's a flashlight." He gave me a flashlight and sent me out to look for that pencil for several hours, and eventually when I found the pencil and brought it to him, he said, "Now I want you to sit down here and learn two very important lessons in nonviolence. Lesson number one is that even in the manufacture of a little thing like a pencil, we use a lot of the world's natural resources, and when we waste these things, we are, in fact, wasting the world's natural resources, and that's why we are committing violence against nature. And because we waste things that are so easily available to us, we are over-consuming these things, and that over-consumption results in some people living in poverty." He said, "Imagine, if there were 50 million or 60 million children like you around the world who threw away a pencil every day, how much of the world's natural resources we are wasting."

And it began to make sense to me. I learned a very profound lesson that evening, which stuck with me. In the last seven years I've been living on a university campus, and in those seven years I've never had to buy a pencil or a pen, because all I need to do is walk around the campus and I find so many pencils and pens lying around.

But seriously, if we look at the amount of waste that we commit, the waste that we indulge in - not just a pencil, but so many things that are so easily available to us - we don't even take any note of it. We pull out reams of paper and wipe our hands and throw them away. There are so many other ways in which we waste things. We waste a lot of food and so many things. It would be a good exercise for some of us to make a note of how much we waste every day and compile that in terms of monetary and natural losses that we suffer.

There were other instances, also, when he taught me lessons.

There were lessons that I learned from my parents. The lesson that I learned from my parents was a profound lesson in where nonviolence begins. It doesn't begin with somebody else; it begins with ourselves; it begins at home. And I learned this the hard way when my parents had to discipline me for being naughty.

I remember one occasion, which has stuck in my mind ever since, when I was 16 years old and we were living in South Africa. Our settlement, the commune that Grandfather had started in 1903, the nonviolent commune, was 18 miles out of the city of Durban, and much of the distance between our farm and the city was dirt roads through sugarcane fields.

One day, Father had to go to a conference, and he didn't feel like driving, and he asked me whether I would drive him into the city, and I said, "Very gladly." I had nothing else to do.

Mother gave me a list of things that she needed from the stores, and I took all of that and drove Father into the town, and before I dropped him he told me that he would be waiting for me at a particular intersection at five o'clock in the evening, and that I would come there and pick him up. And I said, "Fine." [30:13]

I had the whole day to myself, so I finished my chores quickly in the morning. Dad wanted me to get the car serviced - oil changed and all that - so I left the car in the garage. And 16-year-old boy, very interested in Hollywood movies, I decided to spend the afternoon in the cinema, little realizing that there was a double feature going on. I got so engrossed in the movies that I forgot the passage of time, and by the time I got out of the movies, it was five-thirty.

I ran to the garage, and got the car, and drove like mad to where Dad was waiting and reached him at about ten to six. And naturally, he was very concerned about what happened, and he was pacing around in that area. The first question he asked me when I reached there was, "What happened? Why are you late?"

And I don't know why, for some inexplicable reason, instead of telling him the truth, I decided to lie to him. And I said, "The car wasn't ready - I had to wait for the car," little realizing that he had already called the garage and found out.

And I was caught in the lie, and father was very distressed by that, and he said, "There is something wrong in the way I brought you up that made you lie to me today, instead of giving you the confidence of telling me the truth, and so I've got to punish myself. And I am not going to ride with you, but I am going to walk home from here."

And he started walking, at six o'clock in the evening, 18 miles back home. And I couldn't leave him there or couldn't drive away and go home, so I was crawling behind him for all those 18 miles. It took him five hours, and the agony that I went through for those five hours convinced me that I should never lie to anybody ever again.

Now that was nonviolence at home. It began with us, and we had to practice it in our own homes. This is what all of us need to learn. We need to understand what we mean by nonviolence. We need to understand that peace means a more profound thing than just the absence of war.

And so, today, when we take stock of what should we do so that the vision of Dr. Pauling and my grandfather, and so many others would make the next century a more worthwhile century, the twentieth century will go down as the bloodiest century in human history.

But let's make the twenty-first century a better century. Let's make a good beginning, so that when we enter the twenty-first century, we have hope instead of despair. And we can do this. We don't need to make profound sacrifices.

One of the bases on which the philosophy of nonviolence depends is trusteeship. Now, trusteeship means that each one of us has some talent, whether it's the talent to make money, or it's the talent to invent things, or the talent to do good business, or whatever it is, we have some talents, and we should not use those talents for our selfish gains alone. We should use the talents to help other people also. So we are, in effect, trustees of that talent that we have, and we should use it in that way - that it's not ours, but it belongs to the family and the society, and we should use it that way. [35:00]

I'm going to give you a few instances of how this concept of trusteeship was used in India by the small group that I formed about which you were told in the introduction.

Now, as you probably know, India has this tremendous problem of caste prejudices. It's been there for 2,000 years, and it's mind-boggling to think of how deep these prejudices go and how much hate people can generate because of these prejudices. We thought that after independence, these prejudices would vanish, that there would be no caste system, but the government of India didn't have the courage to abandon the whole caste system itself. What they did was they made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of caste. So they put the onus of proving discrimination on the victim. Now, in India, these people are ignorant. They've never been to school. They don't have jobs, or they have very poor-paying jobs. They live in tremendous poverty. There was no way in which they could get legal help to go and complain to the police or the courts of law that somebody has discriminated against them. They were also faced with the problem that most of the people who discriminated against them were their employers, and if they went and complained against them, they would lose their jobs. So there were virtually no complaints of discrimination, and so today when you go to India, the government of India will show you, very proudly, that there is no discrimination in the country because there are no complaints filed.

But we know better. In 1960, some of us, six of us, decided that we should try to use this concept of trusteeship and the concept of nonviolence to help some of these people bring about change that was necessary in their lives. And we went and adopted one village, where 250-odd families of untouchable people lived. And, mind you, in 1960 these people were living in such terrible conditions that they had never eaten a square meal ever in their lives. All that they could survive on was scraps of food that they picked up in the garbage, or roots and berries that they picked up in the forest. They had never tasted milk or tea or coffee. Some of the women didn't have clothes to wear; they couldn't come out of their huts to meet us and talk to us because they didn't have any clothes to wear. That was the extent of poverty that they lived in.

So we realized immediately that the first priority here was economic stability. We had to find ways in which these people could live economically well off. We took them into our confidence. It took us a long time to prove to them that we were there to really help them - they thought we were aspiring politicians who had come to build a constituency, get their support and their votes, and once we were elected we would forget them and go away, like many people had done in the past. But for more than a year we had to go there and speak to them and repeatedly convince them that this was not what we were up to, but we were genuinely feeling sorry for them and wanted to help them. And after that we were able get them to sit with us and decide their future. [39:56]

What we did was we built them a cooperative dairy. This was the time when the government was giving out loans to people to buy animals and start a dairy because there was so much demand for milk in big cities. And we asked each of these families to apply for those loans, and all of them were rejected by the government. The government said, "They have no security. They didn't even have an address. If they disappeared with this money, where would we go and look for them?" So we had to pledge our own securities for these people, and get them those loans, and the faith that we put into them was paid back in gratitude.

They got their loans, they bought their first animals, and in 1961 they got their first taste of milk, and from that point onwards they haven't looked backwards. That dairy today flourishes, and has become one of the biggest dairies in that area. They also started a cooperative agricultural unit, where they produce all kinds of fruits and food grains. And all of them work on the land - work in the dairies.

And now they have an economic base from which they can do many things for themselves. They've provided their own medical facilities, their own educational facilities - whatever they need, they've been able to provide that. Young people have gone out, become doctors and teachers and dairy specialists and managers and veterinarians and all sorts of things, and they've come back again because they have something to look forward to and somewhere to work.

Now that success in one village in a matter of one decade has now grown on its own momentum, because while we worked with these people, we instilled in them that concept of nonviolence - that once you meet with success, don't become greedy and keep everything for yourself, but remember that you have to help people who are still in need of help. And so they are doing this on their own momentum, and today I'm very pleased to report that this work that we started in one village has grown to more than three hundred villages, and it's continuously growing because all of them are now going out and helping other people.

These are some of the ways in which we can help people resolve their conflicts and bring about peace, because there are so many conflicts in our lives, in our neighborhoods - conflicts that are not necessarily political. They are economic or social, and we have to get involved in finding solutions to these problems.

Another project that I'd like to talk to you about deals with homelessness. We have this problem all over the world. There are many people who are homeless. In India we have this on a larger scale because the population is larger, and also because after independence, the Indian government decided to adopt the high-tech, capital-intensive industries, which necessarily had to be confined in urban areas. And, therefore, because of this lopsided development program, the people who lived in villages were left out of this whole growth, and they are now migrating to the big cities in search of survival. And that's another reason why we had an outbreak of plague, because you have millions of people living out on the sidewalks where they have no facilities whatsoever, and they use the sidewalks to sleep on, and they use the sidewalks for their ablutions, and everything. [45:09]

So there is all that major problem in India, but how do you deal with that problem in Democracy? You can't stop people from coming and living wherever they want to. So there is a lot of anger and animosity among people in cities like Bombay. They keep demanding from the government that these people should be pushed out of the cities and left in the wilderness; they have no right to come and pollute our cities and destroy the civic amenities. But the government cannot do it.

Now we took up this second project in 1970. We assembled 600 people, who came from the region south of Bombay, who had migrated from there in search of work. Some of them were able to find work in the textile industry. They were working as laborers, earning the equivalent of $15 a month. They had to share that money with their families back home, so everybody lived in poverty. They couldn't do anything except keep body and soul together, and even that was a very difficult thing. But we brought these people together and we said, "We are going to try to help you, but it will have to be through self-help methods. We are not going to give you any charity."

And they agreed to listen to us, and we inspired them to make some sacrifices - deny themselves something. If they were drinking three cups of tea a day, we said, "Forget it. Don't have any tea." If they smoked, we told them to cut off smoking, but do something, save a coin every day, and build a capital. Now this was a tremendous challenge to people who were earning $15 dollars a month. To expect them to deny themselves something and put aside a coin was a major thing. But we wanted them to participate in the program of development, and they took up that challenge, and within a year and a half they came back to us with the equivalent of $11,000. And with that money, we bought second-hand textile machines, installed them in a little tin shed in the village, and told them to run this as a jointly-owned factory so that everybody could come back and live in their villages. They did this.

Today they have three large textile factories, with more than three hundred and sixty textile machines. They have a factory to make shirts and trousers for young boys and men. And they continued with that small savings habit, and in 1978 they opened their first cooperative bank in the city of Bombay, and that bank today has seven branch offices, and total assets worth two million dollars.

Now this was achieved by people who were condemned as useless people, people who had no brains, who would never be successful, people who had to live on sidewalks, homeless people. By giving them a little helping hand, by giving them back their self-respect and their self-confidence, we were able to get them out of that situation.

Now these are some of the things that we should consider doing on a larger scale, so that we can help communities get out of the conflict situations that they find themselves in. And once we are able to deal with this passive violence that exists in our societies, we will then be able to bring about greater peace in the world and live in peace and harmony. [49:58]

I have been often told that nonviolence will not work in a political situation unless you are faced with the kind-hearted British. But the British were not kind-hearted by any means. They tried their best to crush the movement in India. They used all sorts of violence to put an end to it, but they didn't succeed because the movement, the nonviolence that was practiced by Grandfather, had no hate in it. There was no room for any hate in it. It was based on love and understanding and respect for the British, and, therefore, they didn't know how to deal with this.

Now we have two wonderful examples provided to us during the 20th century - the examples of Hitler and Gandhi - on how to use anger. Hitler, in 1909, went to Vienna to study, and that was the first time he was exposed to anti-Semitism. And he liked what he heard, so he went repeatedly to these meetings and became more and more impressed with what he heard there.

In the same year, 1909, Grandfather was on his way back from England to South Africa, and he was convinced by then that this philosophy of nonviolence has a great amount of validity today, and he was inspired from within to write this thesis. And he wrote so furiously in his journal, by hand, that he says that he had to learn to write with his left hand also, because when he was tired of using his right hand he would switch to the left hand. The thoughts were coming so fast that he had to get them all out on paper. And that was his first thesis on nonviolence that he published in 1909.

Then we had World War I. Hitler became [an] Officer in the German Army, a Lieutenant, and the Germans lost the war. There was a tremendous amount of anger and humiliation and all the feelings that go with losing, and Hitler was also very angry by then with the whole world. And that was in 1919 that the German Army sent him to a bar in Munich to report on a meeting that was taking place there, and that was the birth of the Nazi party. He went there and he found six people assembled, and he heard them speak, and he felt so impressed by it that he sent a glowing report the German Army, and he said, "These are patriotic people - there's nothing to fear from them." And a week later, he became the seventh member of [the] Nazi party.

In the same year, 1919, another veteran of World War I, a British officer, Lieutenant Dyer, was the governor of the northern province of Punjab, in India. And because the nonviolent movement was gaining momentum, he imposed martial law in Punjab, and he said that no groups could meet - no groups larger than five people could meet publicly - and he put many other restrictions also. [55:03]

But this was a period when people in Punjab were celebrating their spring festival, which was as important to them as Halloween is in the United States. And, naturally, they came out into the streets to celebrate this. Ten thousand of them assembled in a football field in the center of the city, a field that is walled in on all sides - nine-foot walls on all sides. There's only one opening to the field. They had assembled to rejoice. There were men, women, and children, all rejoicing and having fun there, celebrating the festival, and during that period there was one nonviolent activist who was talking to them about nonviolence.

Lieutenant Dyer thought this was unlawful, so he marched his troops, blocked the entrance, and ordered them to open fire on these people. And within half an hour, 381 men, women, and children were killed, 1,654 people were injured, and they stopped firing only because they ran out of ammunition. If they had more ammunition, they would have gone on firing into the crowd.

Now that was tremendous humiliation. So many years of British oppression, capped by this event, caused tremendous anger in the Indian people - much more anger than the Germans could ever feel after the loss in World War I. But whereas in Germany Hitler used that anger, or exploited that anger of the German people to turn it into a negative force, to lead the world into Second World War and the Holocaust and all that we heard about, in India Gandhi turned that anger into a force of nonviolence. He told the people that if we respond to the British the way Lieutenant Dyer responded to us, we will be no better than him. We will also be doing the same wrong that he did to us, and the two wrongs don't make a right. So we are not going to respond in violence; we are going to respond with love. And he changed that anger, he mobilized that anger of the people, into a nonviolent struggle, and India gained independence within a short time thereafter.

There are other examples which show the efficacy of nonviolence. I'll give you one last one. It's an example of India fighting the British for twenty-seven years for its independence and losing less than 8,000 human lives in twenty-seven years, whilst Algeria, around the same time, were fighting the French for their independence, and, because they had chosen to fight a violent struggle, in nine years Algerians lost 1.2 million human lives, not to speak of the total decimation of the country itself - the economic structure was destroyed in the war. So it makes sense - practical sense - that finding a nonviolent solution to conflicts is much better than finding a violent solution. [59:57]

I would like to leave you with these few ideas today, hopefully inspiring you that we can do something to bring about a change in our world. But like Grandfather warned all of us, I would like to warn you not to expect to be able to change the whole world because we cannot do it. Let us be content by changing our neighborhoods or our cities or even our families, and let the change radiate from there and go out into the world, because that would be a more practical solution, a more attainable goal, than trying to change the whole world.

I left Grandfather in October of 1947 to go back to South Africa with my parents, and when we went to say our farewell to Grandfather, he slipped a little paper into my pocket, and he said, "This is a talisman for you." It wasn't an autograph. He said, "This is a talisman for you. I want you to keep it with you as long as you can, and devote your energies to changing these seven blunders into seven wonders." He said, "These are the seven blunders of humanity." Some people call it seven sins of humanity; I prefer to call them blunders because that's what he told me. He said, "These seven blunders of humanity are the cause of all the violence that we see in our societies, and if we can change these seven blunders to seven wonders, we'll be able to eliminate much of the violence."

The seven blunders that he wrote down for me were: "wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principles." And, in more recent times, I added the eighth one: "rights without responsibilities." If we can bring about a change in these things, we'll make a much better world to live in. Thank you very much. [1:03:00]

If you have any questions, I would be delighted to answer them. Yes, sir? [1:04:15]

Audience Member: All the pundits that you read in the newspapers today say that there's no hope for the Haitian people because they're so backward, and I can't agree with that statement.

Arun Gandhi: No, certainly not. I don't think anybody is backward. People are victims of the circumstances in which they live, and they can easily get out of it. I just gave you a few examples of how we were able to help people, and I'm sure that if we can reach out to the Haitian people and people around the world, we could help them improve their lifestyle and have a more quality life. Then we would not have to send armies to protect them.

Audience Member: Could you repeat those seven or eight blunders? I going to make sure that I...

Arun Gandhi: It's "wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principles." These were the seven given to me by Grandfather, and my own one is "rights without responsibilities." I hear so many people fighting for their rights and demanding their rights in a democracy, but I've never heard anybody fighting for their responsibilities.

Audience Member: You said that your three brothers -

Arun Gandhi: No, I don't have - my father had three brothers.

Audience Member: - then what did the life work of the others go into?

Arun Gandhi: They all went into normal vocations. My youngest uncle was a journalist. He was the managing editor of a major national daily, the Hindustan Times. One other uncle was an executive in a soap-making factory. And the eldest of them, the first uncle, became a renegade and left the family and became and alcoholic and just was lost forever.

Audience Member: Do you have any siblings or children that have followed your life's work?

Arun Gandhi: I have two sisters. One is older than me and one is younger than me. Both of them live in South Africa.

The younger sister was very active in politics there and, in fact, she was under house arrest for 15 years, and, more recently, 10 days before last Christmas, her 29-year-old son was assassinated in the political violence that was going on there, because all of them were active members of the African National Congress, and they were living in an area which was a stronghold of the Inkatha people, and so we suspect that the Inkatha people assassinated him.

So we have been active and we have paid the price for our activities.

Audience Member: I'm wondering if you could comment a little bit - maybe ideas that you might have about how we can bring some of these concepts home in America today, where we have such, really, a growing feeling of cynicism, both about politics and about philanthropy and helping others, and membership in environmental groups is falling off by leaps and bounds, and charitable giving is falling away, and what you're basically talking about is sort of a movement of compassion and empowerment for people, but this is not the way that the public sentiment is going in this country today, and I wonder if you have any ideas on how we can make it, if not turn around, at least make a small detour.

Arun Gandhi: I think what has happened here in the United States with many of the peace movements and other environmental movements is they became too big and they looked at trying to solve the entire problem all over the world, and as I just said, you know, when you set unattainable goals, you get frustrated. That's why the membership starts slipping. I think if we have more attainable goals set and if we have a smaller focus area, then we can attain those goals and then grow from that into something larger. [1:09:50]

We have started this institute in Memphis, and we have been working there among the drug and alcohol addicts who have gotten involved in crime - they've repeatedly gone to prison because of their addiction and crime. And I've had several workshops with them over a period of seven months now - it's an ongoing program - and we have been able to bring about a profound change in their attitudes. Now they have self-respect and self-confidence, and they have made a resolve that they're going to get out of this lifestyle and become useful citizens and do their share in life.

So, you know, when you set those attainable goals and are able to help people in small areas, and when people see changes taking place in those small areas, I think they will become more responsive and will give more in charity that way. So the key, I guess, is to work in smaller areas, keep the organizations small, set attainable goals, and reach those goals.

Audience Member: I understand, upon learning about the [unintelligible?], that at the culmination of that, your grandfather welcomed the British government to join him in the fight against oppression. And when I learned about that, I was very impressed with the constant source of love and absence of hate in everything he did. What did he do on a daily basis, and what do you do on a daily basis, to keep that thought and spirit going?

Arun Gandhi: Well, one of the things that I do is every morning I wake up and I am grateful for the day, and I remind myself that I have some work to do and I have to reach out to some people in the world and help them understand and bring about a change. And so I focus on a small group of people and, you know, go and share with them. So I think that's what keeps me going. I know I will not be able to change the whole world. I won't be able to even change the whole city of Memphis where we are. But if I am able to change a few people in the neighborhoods there and help them, I'll be very content with that. And so I am very grateful to each day giving me this opportunity of bringing about that change. I think that's what Grandfather also did in his life.

Audience Member: Do you have a book that you recommend - maybe one that you've written or one that inspired you or one that might get us started in this direction?

Arun Gandhi: I haven't written a book yet; I'm planning to some day when I have the time to do it. I don't know. I can't recommend any one particular book that would give you inspiration. There are many books that one would have to read to understand this philosophy, but basically this philosophy is based on common sense. I mean, each one of us have to use our common sense - once we have the foundation of the philosophy, use our common sense to expand on it and find ways of using it in our lives.

Very often, people, especially people in India, have changed this into dogmatism and made dogmas out of his philosophy, and, therefore, many people get disillusioned by that and have lost it altogether.

Audience Member: We all know too well that when there is scarcity for resources, the violence in the system increases, and with the increase in world population, we know that the resources are becoming scarcer and scarcer. So what is your institute's policy on world population?

Arun Gandhi: Well, I think one thing that we need to remember is that there is an inverse relationship between materialism and morality, and the more materialistic we become, the less moral we are, which doesn't mean that we give up materialism altogether - Grandfather said that materialism is necessary and morality is necessary, so we should find a level at which we can live with materialism and morality, and thereby be able to share our resources with other people and help them attain a better life. [1:15:08]

There is a relationship between a better economic life and living in poverty. We have found, and the WHO, World Health Organization, has found through its work, that the more poor the people are, the more likely they are to have bigger families. So if we give them economic stability and raise their economic standards, automatically they start practicing family planning and the population growth goes down. So it's very essential that we look at this factor and try to help people all over the world reduce, or rather, gain, economic stability so that we reduce the population growth.

Audience Member: What's the second lesson of the pencil?

Arun Gandhi: The first lesson [is] that we commit violence against nature by wasting nature and natural resources, and the second lesson is that, because we have that wasteful habit, we over-consume, and because we over-consume, we are not able to share with other people and they have to live in poverty, so that is violence against humanity.

Audience Member: Your grandfather and parents inspired you to become nonviolent. Do you know what inspired your grandfather?

Arun Gandhi: I think circumstances inspired Grandfather. When he went to South Africa as a young lawyer to take up a legal case there, he was subjected to the same kind of racial beatings that I experienced, and this was within a week of his arrival there, and that's when he started wondering, "How do we get justice in this world? How do we fight injustice?" He had experienced an-eye-for-an-eye justice, and he realized that that doesn't help, because we could beat each other up until we are dead and we would not resolve the conflict - the conflict would remain. As we see after so many centuries, we are still fighting over the same issues over and over again. So he wanted some humane way in dealing with this injustice and the more he thought about it, the more convinced he felt that the only way for civilized human beings is nonviolence.

It made practical sense also, because I think he read Napoleon's books on military strategy, and Napoleon had said in his military strategy that the general who holds the initiative has a better chance of winning the war. Now how does a person hold the initiative? The initiative is held by the person who can determine when a battle is going to take place, where it is going to take place, how it is going to take place, and why it is going to take place. Anyone who can have all those four initiatives in their hand would win the battle, and Grandfather thought that if he launched a nonviolent struggle, he had all these options. He could determine everything: when, where, and why he was going to fight. And so he used those options and very successfully won many battles in nonviolence.

Audience Member: What influence, if any, does the legacy of Martin Luther King have on your center in Memphis? I ask this because that was the city in which violence ended his life.

Arun Gandhi: Yes, there is a national civil rights museum built at the place where he was assassinated, and we do work with them on several projects - you know, we collaborate on projects and work with them.

Audience Member: Your institute seems to be very successful in working with small groups and influencing common people. I'm wondering if you feel that you have had any influence on the United States government and our policies - of militarism, especially? [1:20:09]

Arun Gandhi: No, I have not reached that level yet. I think politicians create more problems than they solve, so I have not even tried to influence them, but, strangely, I have recently received an invitation to attend the Renaissance Weekend - the famous Renaissance Weekend - where President Clinton goes during New Year's holidays, where they have this think tank, and I got an invitation to go there, so I presume that I will be meeting some of the politicians and, hopefully, convey to them the same message of nonviolence, and hope it will have some effect on them.

Audience Member: Give them courage, please.

Arun Gandhi: Thank you. Thank you very much for this evening.

Kay Schaffer: Just before you leave, I want to tell you that earlier this evening I asked Mr. Gandhi if he was comfortable speaking to large groups and how he felt about giving this kind of presentation. And he said, "Let me put it this way: if my mother were here, she would be very surprised that I could stand up in front of a large group and speak to you." I just want to say to you, Mr. Gandhi, your mother would be very proud.

Thank you very much. [1:21:56]


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