Arun Gandhi says nonviolence begins with individuals

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    By JESSE HYDE

    Arun Gandhi used examples from his own life to illustrate how individuals can resolve and avoid conflicts through nonviolence at Tuesday’s Forum in the Marriott Center.

    Gandhi called the 20th century the most violent in history. He said that each individual must commit to nonviolence in order to make a difference.

    “My generation has made a mess of this world, but yours doesn’t have to,” Gandhi said.

    Gandhi asked why the United States is both the most progressive nation and the most violent. He argued that progress should result in less violence.

    He compared U.S. crime levels to other nations of comparable economic status. In 1992, for example, 60 murders were committed with handguns in Japan while the United States experienced 13,220 handgun deaths.

    “We are becoming so immune to violence that we don’t care what happens to people,” Gandhi said.

    Gandhi proposed nonviolent solutions to society’s problems by sharing lessons he learned from his late grandfather, the legendary Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi.

    Gandhi said his grandfather first experienced racial prejudice when he was thrown from a train while travelling to South Africa. He said his grandfather’s first response was anger, but decided to act peacefully.

    Mahatma Gandhi dedicated his life to resolving social conflicts through tolerance. Although he wass well known for teaching people to react peacefully to social injustices, Arun Gandhi said he also encouraged individuals to be proactive by avoiding conflict.

    Gandhi said his grandfather taught him to channel his anger and use it for the good of humanity.

    He said each day we choose how we will handle our anger. He encouraged students to learn to deal with anger positively.

    He also encouraged students to avoid passive violence. He said passive violence is often communicated through body language and words. Passive violence often results in physical violence, Gandhi said.

    In a question and answer session following the Forum, Gandhi said governments often handle conflicts well but fail to effectively deal with crisis.

    “We wait until conflicts become crises and then they blow up in our face,” Gandhi said.

    He said that in some cases violence is necessary to solve problems, but violence often only aggravates the situation.

    Gandhi also addressed the topic of religion. He said conflicts often arise because of differing religious beliefs, and he encouraged tolerance.

    “There is no such thing as Christian morals and values or Muslim morals and values. Morals and values are personal,” Gandhi said.

    Gandhi said great social changes begin with the individual. He encouraged students to make a difference through example.

    Arun Gandhi founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in 1991. The center applies principles of nonviolence through research, workshops, seminars and community service.

    Gandhi will also speak at the Second Annual MicroEnterprise Conference on Friday at 9:50 a.m. in 3220 WSC.

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