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AboutFreedom Fighting, a weekly publication, explores answers to one question: If a Gandhi and a King were among us today, what would they be doing? Unless otherwise noted, columns are written by Pablo del Real and illustrated by Michael di Pietro.
|Gandhi to Occupy: "Take me to your leader"|
|Saturday, 21 July 2012 00:00|
Would a modern-day Gandhi be part of the Occupy movement?
As part of this brief thought experiment, let us make a few assumptions about a modern-day Gandhi:
These assumptions lead to an exciting possibility: a fledgling 21st-century Gandhi might be living in the United States today. So back to the question: would a modern-day Gandhi be involved in Occupy Wall Street?
Like Martin Luther King, Gandhi had no intentions of becoming a full-time volunteer for peace. However, within days of arriving in South Africa in June of 1893, Gandhi was thrown off a train, beaten on a stagecoach, and barred from staying at hotel, all because of his race. Only after such intense personal humiliation did Gandhi solemnly vow to resist racial discrimination. Most Indians who come to the U.S. for work don't experience anything like this. So without some kind of unjust suffering at the hands of corporate greed, a modern-day Gandhi would not have felt compelled to join Occupy Wall Street at the beginning.
Another reason a 21st-century Gandhi would not join the ongoing Occupy movement is that the real Gandhi was an organization man. From a fairly young age, he believed that organizations were the way to effect political change. Immediately after Gandhi's rough introduction to racial discrimination, he and other South African Indians laid the groundwork for a new organization, and in August 1894 it was born. The Natal Indian Congress “marked the birth of the first permanent political organisation to strive to maintain and protect the rights of Indians in South Africa.” (South African History Online) Gandhi was elected as the group’s secretary.
The third reason a modern-day Gandhi would not be involved in the Occupy movement: the real Gandhi was a leader and a follower. As Professor Michael Nagler has pointed out, Gandhi asserted his authority as a moral leader of a nonviolent army when necessary. “I am your general,” Gandhi told Indians struggling against the British Raj for independence, “and as long as you want me to lead you, you have to give me your implicit obedience.” A modern-day Gandhi would not see any hope for a leaderless movement.
Recognizing that the first responsibility of a leader was to serve the people, Gandhi was inclined to follow when other servant leaders were ahead of him. In 1914, Gandhi told Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the reigning elder statesman of the Indian National Congress, that he was planning to move back to India from South Africa. Gokhale welcomed the news but extracted from Gandhi a promise. “When in India, he told Gandhi, keep your eyes open and mouth shut for one year.” The junior leader kept the promise.
Years later, fully reacquainted with his fellow Indians, Gandhi could say, “There go my people, and I must hurry to catch up with them, for I am their leader.” Gandhi believed in a fluid dynamic between servant leaders and their constituents, but he would not recognize a "leaderless" movement.
That said, a Gandhi-like figure would appreciate the anarchist philosophy demonstrated by the Occupy Wall Street movement. But he or she would be quick to point out that the kind of anarchy Gandhi had in mind was Raja Rama, aka the kingdom of God on earth. The real Gandhi sought a society full of members so good and so pure on the inside that no outside authority would ever be necessary. He or she would be working to bring about anarchy, literally "no rule", but only by establishing the kingdom of God in men's souls first.
So, while a future Gandhi might be in the United States, unconsciously longing to catch up to his or her destiny, he or she is likely not involved in Occupy Wall Street. No, the would-be Gandhi is toiling in New York, California, or some other part of the country, waiting to be aroused to his or her great task: to awaken the 100% in the U.S. to the true power of the inborn spirit and then to return to India and repeat the miracle at home.