This week, Nonviolence Radio hosts Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, herself a peace activist and committed supporter of nonviolence. Ela was raised in The Phoenix Settlement, an ashram established by Gandhi in 1904 dedicated to the value of self-sufficiency, grounded in a profound concern for the natural world and dedicated to promoting human dignity for all. In this episode, Stephanie and Michael talk to Ela about her life, about the corrosive power of consumerism in our world today, about the importance of actively modeling compassion, decency and kindness, and the crucial Gandhian idea of constructive program:
…at Phoenix Settlement, we encouraged people to do their own growing of vegetables and so on. That was one way in which people became self-sufficient. Also, in little skills to make them less dependent on the mainline economy. This is building up your own economic activity so that you become self-sufficient, so that you’re not dependent on the people who are actually exploiting you. That’s the one thing.
The second thing is that you are not supporting the exploitative mechanism. By becoming independent or dependent on yourself rather than on these economic giants, you’re making a statement and you’re also showing that, at the end of the day, they depend on us as consumers. And if we stop consuming what they produce, then it makes them think, it makes them reassess what they are doing. That’s one of the ways in which one indicates to people that we are unhappy about the way you are doing things.
“Constructive program” emerges as one of the most empowering and effective tools nonviolent activists can use to push back against oppressive forces and set up a more just and peaceful world.
Transcript archived at Waging Nonviolence