After fielding some commonly asked questions about my new book, Gandhi Searches for Truth: A Practical Biography for Children, I thought it’d be useful to post my answers here, so that others may learn more about the book and Gandhi. Have questions about bulk orders for your school, bookstore, or library? Please email me for details: email@example.com.
Why is it a “practical” biography? What is “practical” about it?
Gandhi referred to himself as a “practical idealist.” He wanted to take big ideas, like nonviolence, Truth, love and equality, and work them out in practice. At the same time, Gandhi is only practical if we understand and really take to heart that he was a human being, like us. We don’t have to think of Gandhi as though he were just a figure for the history books–we can look to him to empower ourselves to be brave enough to try things differently when necessary. (more…)
The following is a guest blog post by Arvin Paranjpe.
As a parent with absolutely no experience in teaching or leading kids, I had a crazy but faintly lucid idea: I should start a week-long nonviolence camp for my six year-old daughter.
And so I did—with the help of my wife, several part-time parents, three volunteers, and six wonderful girls ranging from six to nine years old.
I had my reasons to start a nonviolence day camp, which we dubbed The Heart of a Hero Camp. For one, I want my daughter, and all children, to live a life full of peace and love. Gandhi believed that if we are to reach real peace in this world—and if we are to carry on a real war against war—we must begin with our children. (more…)
After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Viet Cong resistance fighters testified that they were encouraged in their fight for freedom by the spirit and steadfastness of Dr. King and the Black freedom movement (Hope and History, Vincent Harding, p. 5). Martin Luther King was not dead in Vietnam.
In June 1989, 21 years after the death of Martin Luther King, thousands of Chinese students protested for Chinese democracy. In Beijing’s Tiananmen Square they hung great banners announcing in English, “We Shall Overcome” (Ibid, p 3). Martin Luther King was not dead in China. (more…)
Mahatma Gandhi was an ordinary child who sought to do something extraordinary with his life: he wanted to discover Truth. This book chronicles Gandhi’s inner and outer journey from childhood to the independence of India in twelve short stories, with beautiful watercolor and ink images of Gandhi and his family. For both children and grown-ups, these stories explore how Gandhi discovered key principles and tools of nonviolence, including concepts like “satyagraha” and “nonviolent non-cooperation.” Most importantly, it addresses how we can bring his great message in our own lives and become peacemakers at any age!
Special guest Robin Wildman, a nonviolence educator from Broad Rock Middle School in Rhode Island with 25 years of teaching experience, led this three-part series on June 9th, July 14th, and August 4th from 5 – 6pm PST. Topics included breaking down conflict, understanding core nonviolence principles, and reconciling conflict.
I share your frustration and your anger over the outcome of the Democratic (?) National Convention. I’ve had my share. There is a place for anger; but there is also a way to use it. Anger is power. The revolution launched by Senator Sanders has accomplished amazing results. The point is now to recognize the beauty and power of our momentum — and, as Martin Luther King, Jr. says, harness our anger “under discipline,” meaning convert it into determination. Let’s think what that might look like now.
Senator Sanders has announced that he will create a support base for progressive candidates for local and national offices. That is the perfect role for him. But our role is even bigger. Remember what President Johnson said when MLK urged him to give the nation a voting rights act: “That’s a great idea. Now go out and make me do it.”
A prominent Republican, as he was bolting the party, said Donald Trump is not just a political mistake but “an indictment of our character.” I would say it’s an indictment of our culture. The real revolution is not just political; it’s cultural. As long as people are bombarded by 3,000-5,000 commercial messages a day (according to recent studies) telling us we’re separate, material beings who need to plunder the Earth for satisfaction and fight one another for security, specters like Donald Trump will arise, and we will be fighting a rear-guard action to keep them out of power. We need a “new story” about humanity and our place in the universe.
The good news is a “new story” is being talked up in various circles. It’s based squarely on two supports: the best of modern science and the perennial wisdom that has supported every human tradition, from Jesus to Gandhi. Taken together, this story says we are not alone in the universe. The same human agency that’s degrading the Earth can also restore it; the same humanity that’s blowing up in violence all over the planet can also learn and practice nonviolence. Learning this story and how to use it, patiently and persuasively, to explain why we’re against war and for a beloved community on a healthy planet should be part of every activist’s toolkit today.
We now have the technologies to stay connected in ways that were never possible before. Great. Don’t use them as a substitute for face-to-face relationships, but use them to, for example, start a discussion on strategy that we can all work on together, taking us from our present baffling but in some ways amazing situation all the way to the distant vision of peace and justice for all. A joint strategy doesn’t mean everyone working on the same issue, but rather, as I see it, situating our issues on a progressive (in both senses) trajectory, starting from things that are hard but doable, to things that seem undoable now but will eventually appear as inevitable. It would certainly include what Joanna Macy calls “stopping the worst of the damage,” which means the climate. We’ll carry on with the creative blend of legal argumentation and downright obstruction we saw in the “kayaktivism” that kept Shell from drilling the Chukchi Sea last June — but at the same time, do things that not only block the future we don’t want, but build one we do.
I can see one trajectory for this that starts with establishing restorative justice as a norm in the nation’s schools (it’s already happening in more enlightened districts), then goes on to do the same for the prison system, and then we set our sights on the war system. All this would be supported by a steady drumbeat of explanation about human nature and our intimate relationship to one another and the planet.
Other trajectories would move similarly from achievable to apparently distant goals, all based on that common vision. Let’s not get hung up on whether we should vote for Hillary Clinton or Jill Stein. From Occupy to the Bernie Sanders movement, we have shown what we’re capable of. Now let’s build on that momentum. It will be a lot of work, and yes, every now and then some risk and suffering, that can be kept to a minimum, with the right strategies. We need a greater awareness that we’re all in this together; we need to do more long-range planning; and we have to find ways, to reach out to the opposition. The “Trump phenomenon” is a shocking revelation of the state of mind of millions of Americans. We could probably “defeat” them in an out-and-out political fight, but is that any foundation for a secure future? In our kind of future, the political process itself will no longer be a fight, but what it once was (or was meant to be): a decision-making process among citizens who have learned to disagree within the framework of civil discourse.
I think this is going to require all our imagination, compassion, tact and courage; which is why we need our “secret weapon” — a way to turn anger into determination and bitterness into optimism, that’s empowering — and justified.
If you’d like to join the conversation about how to build a long-term strategy and make the movement unstoppable, fill out this form and we’ll keep you posted (for example, there’s a major conference being planned in Berkeley, CA for November 12-13, 2016).
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.
La violencia solamente daña a quienes ya están dañados...En vez de revelar la brutalidad del opresor, la justifica.
You never change anything by fighting the existing. To change
something, build a new model and make the existing obsolete!
The first principle of nonviolent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating.
The thing about nonviolence is that when you step out of the shower, you are fully armed.
Rev. Bernard Lafayette
Violent revolutions usually only mean a change of personnel at the top.
I was a prisoner, but I always felt free because I was not frightened… So for me real freedom is freedom from fear.
Aung San Suu Kyi
I freed a lot of slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.
The greatest radicals are all revolutionaries of the heart.
Building cultures of peace is long-haul work, undramatic and unheralded, and often infinitely tedious, and most of the people doing it probably don’t even think of themselves as practitioners of nonviolence. Maybe it’s time they did.
Carol Lee Flinders
Love grows with practice; there is no other way.
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