Mohandas Gandhi, A Profile in Truth and Courage
Mahatma Gandhi, was the charismatic
leader who brought the cause of India's independence
British colonial rule to world attention. His
philosophy of non-violence, for which he coined the term
satyagraha has influenced both nationalist and
international movements for peaceful change.
a person who may have influenced more lives than anybody
else in the 20th century.
By means of non-violent
civil disobedience, Gandhi helped bring about
India's independence from British rule. This inspired
other colonial peoples to work for their own
independence, ultimately dismantling the
British Empire and replacing it with the
Commonwealth of Nations. Gandhi's principle of
satyagraha ("truth force"), often translated as "way
of truth" or "pursuit of truth", has inspired other
democratic activists, including Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nelson Mandela. He often said that his values were
simple; drawn from traditional
Gandhi never received the
Nobel Peace Prize, though he was nominated five
times for it between
1948. Decades later however, the omission was
publicly regretted by the Nobel Committee. When the
Dalai Lama was awarded the Peace Prize in
1989, the chairman of the committee said that this
was "in part a tribute to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi".
The nonviolent approach to social
struggle represents a radical departure from
conventional thinking about conflict, and yet appeals to
a number of common-sense notions.
Among these is the idea that the power
of rulers depends on the consent of the populace.
Without a bureaucracy, an army or a police force to carry
out his or her wishes, the ruler is powerless. Power,
nonviolence teaches us, depends on the co-operation of
others. Nonviolence undermines the power of rulers
through the deliberate withdrawal of this co-operation.
Also of primary significance is the
notion that just means are the most likely to lead to
just ends. When Gandhi said that, "the means may be
likened to the seed, the end to a tree," he expressed
the philosophical kernel of what some refer to as
prefigurative politics. Proponents of
nonviolence reason that the actions we take in the
present inevitably re-shape the social order in like
form. They would argue, for instance, that it is
fundamentally irrational to use violence to achieve a
believe that Gandhi's views
were the most enlightened
of all the political men
in our time."
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