TWENTY GANDHIS: RECLAIMING 9/11 THROUGH SATYAGRAHA
BY: ROBERT C. KOEHLER, columnist for the Tribune Media Services.
SOURCE: Published on 8/31/06 by CommonWonders.com.
As the fifth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many of the nation's values -
tolerance, forgiveness, personal freedom, perhaps even courage itself - remain
trapped in the wreckage.
It may take another anniversary, another 9/11 - September 11, 1906, to be
precise - simply to remind us of what lies buried beneath the fear and cynicism,
the ignorance and politics; and, even more importantly, to wake us up to the
urgency of reclaiming those values and healing as a nation.
Around the country, and particularly in New York City, the wakeup call is
about to be sounded, as grieving Americans - grieving as much for the future
we're bequeathing our children as for the past - proclaim 9/11 a day of healing
and peace, not revenge. The memory of Mahatma Gandhi will help drive the message
The twist of historical fate juxtaposing the birth of "satyagraha," the
world's first large-scale nonviolent resistance movement, with the terror attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, is downright chilling, like the
sound of rhythmic tapping coming from beneath the rubble. Someone's still alive
down there! Hope floods the heart.
Led by a president incapable of protecting us but eerily adept at exploiting
tragedy, we went off on a howling revenge quest against "the axis of evil" and
proceeded to compound the horrors of 9/11 worldwide - turning this day into
an excuse for torture and wiretapping and the indiscriminate "shock and awe"
bombing of a country that had nothing to do with what had happened.
Liz Graydon, a former middle-school teacher who is now education coordinator
for New Yorkers for a Department of Peace, saw mention in a newsletter from
Nonviolent Peace Force, which does peace work in Sri Lanka, that this September
11 would be the 100th anniversary of Gandhi's movement for social justice. Not
surprisingly, "The date just jumped out at me," she told me. It immediately
became the focal point of plans to commemorate 9/11, and the stunning aptness
of it has lit up the national peace network.
In August 1906, Mohandas K. Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer living in South
Africa, was stunned almost to paralysis - "an impenetrable wall was before me,"
he later wrote - upon learning about the law the province of Transvaal had just
passed, known as The Black Act, requiring Indian nationals to submit to a
humiliating registration and fingerprinting process. Its intent was obviously
racist, a first step by the white government to marginalize and eventually expel
"coloreds" from South Africa.
"I clearly saw that this was a question of life and death," Gandhi wrote. ".
. . the community must not sit with folded hands. Better die than submit to
such a law."
Gandhi called a meeting of the Indian community on September 11, which about
3,000 people - Hindus, Muslims and others - attended. One angry speaker,
according to Gandhi's account, declared: "If any one came forward to demand a
certificate from my wife, I would shoot him on that spot and take the consequences."
Gandhi had another idea: "It will not . . . do to be hasty, impatient or
angry," he said. "That cannot save us from this onslaught. But God will come to
our help, if we calmly think out and carry out in time measures of resistance,
presenting a united front and bearing the hardship, which such resistance
brings in its train."
Gandhi's vision, which he came to call satyagraha (a combination of Sanskrit
words literally meaning "seize the truth"), held the day, indeed, kept the
Indians of South Africa unified through eight years of intimidation, abuse and
imprisonment. In 1914, the government agreed to end all of its anti-Indian
discrimination. And of course, Gandhi's large-scale nonviolent resistance movement
continued in India itself until 1947, when British colonial rule finally ended.
Graydon, who used the 1982 movie "Gandhi" in her middle school curriculum,
said her students were invariably skeptical that nonviolence could accomplish
anything. She recalled one boy who conceded, halfway through the film, that it
was pretty convincing, "But c'mon, Miss Graydon, there are 6 billion people on
the planet. You'll never get all of them to be nonviolent!"
She noted that the population of India at the time of Gandhi's movement was
300 million. "We don't need 6 billion Gandhis," she told him. "We need 20
New Yorkers for a Department of Peace, in conjunction with the M.K. Gandhi
Institute for Nonviolence, has organized 32 screenings of "Gandhi" around the
country on Sept. 11, including, in New York City, at the Regal Theater, across
the street from Ground Zero. As far as I can tell, many other events are being
planned that day, both in conjunction with and independent of the New York
event, that will draw inspiration from this mystical confluence of anniversaries.
"Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind," Gandhi said.
"It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the
ingenuity of man."
Maybe the time has come to learn how to use it.
-ROBERT C. KOEHLER
[End of article.]
THE MORAL OF THE STORY.
In the morally-twisted worldview of the Anglo-American-Israeli leaders, some
people are as if gods, whereas other people just don't matter. Nevertheless,
we, the people, can challenge their primitive tribalistic "us versus them"
mentality, help cure the world's ills, and uplift humankind, by adopting the
Three-Step Global Ethics:
1. All life is sacred and must be treated as such (this alone would eliminate
many of the world ills and protect the environment; derived from Buddhism,
Taoism, and some indigenous peoples' religions, such as Aboriginal Australians
and Native Americans).
2. Love every person and have reverence for every living thing (this provides
relational guidance; derived from Jesus' agape love, Buddha's compassion, and
3. Do good, harm no one, renounce war and other acts of evil, engage in
large-scale nonviolent noncooperation with evil (this provides social guidance;
derived from the Judeo-Christian "Golden Rule," Hindu-Buddhist "Karma," and
40 NONVIOLENCE WEBSITES AND NONVIOLENT SOCIAL JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS:
 American Friends Service Committee (USA): http://www.afsc.org
 AntiWar.com (Redwood City, California): http://www.antiwar.com
 B'TSELEM (Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied
 Bring Them Home Now (USA): http://www.bringthemhomenow.org
 Code Pink - Women For Peace (USA): http://www.codepinkalert.org
 Council on American-Islamic Relations (USA): http://www.cair-net.org
 Enviros Against War (Washington): http://www.envirosagainstwar.org
 Every Church A Peace Church (USA): http://www.ecapc.org
 Global Exchange (USA): http://www.globalexchange.org
 Greenpeace International (Planet Earth): http://www.greenpeace.org
 Institute for Peace and Justice (San Diego, CA):
 International Action Center (New York, NY): email@example.com
 International Action Center (Los Angeles, CA): firstname.lastname@example.org
 International Solidarity Movement (UK): http://www.palsolidarity.org
 Irish Antiwar (Dublin, Ireland): http://www.irishantiwar.org
 Lawyers Against the War (North America):
 Jewish Voice For Peace: http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org/
 Jews Not Zionists: http://www.jewsnotzionists.org/
 Mexican American Political Association (USA): http://www.mapa.org
 Military Families Speak Out (USA): http://www.mfso.org
 Military Families Against The War (UK): http://www.mfaw.org.uk
 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (USA):
 National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (USA):
 National Council of Churches (USA): http://www.ncccusa.org
 Nonviolence International: http://www.nonviolenceinternational.net
 Nonviolence.org (Philadelphia, PA): http://www.nonviolence.org
 Not In My Name: http://www.nimn.org/
 Nuclear-Free Peacemaker New Zealand: http://nuclearfreenz.lynx.co.nz
 Pax Christi (USA): http://www.paxchristiUSA.org
 Peacework Magazine (Cambridge, MA): http://www.afsc.org/peacework
 Physicians for Human Rights (North America): http://www.phrusa.org
 United For Peace and Justice (New York, NY):
 United For Peace and Justice (San Francisco, CA): email@example.com
 Veterans For Peace (USA): firstname.lastname@example.org
 Vietnam Veterans Against War (USA): http://www.vvaw.org
 Vietnam Veterans Against War Anti-Imperialist (USA): VVAWAI@oz.net
 Voices for Creative NonViolence (Chicago, IL): http://www.vcnv.org
 Voters For Peace (USA): http://www.votersforpeace.us
 World Council of Churches (Planet Earth): http://www.wcc-coe.org/
 WorldPeace.org (Australia): http://www.worldpeace.org.au
When people no longer fear authority
a greater authority will appear
don't restrict where people dwell
don't repress how people live
if they aren't repressed
they won't protest
thus the sage knows herself
but doesn't reveal herself
she loves herself
but doesn't exalt herself
thus she picks this over that
Dao de Jing # 72
translated by Red Pine
The best way to end the war is to support war resisters.
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