Gandhi urges nonviolence

Wouldn’t it be interesting to hear what Mahatma Gandhi—the 20th century’s most revered advocate of nonviolence—would have said about the “first war of the 21st century,” as declared by President George Bush?

Well, that’s obviously not possible, seeing as how the liberator of India was killed by a religious fundamentalist not far from where the current war is being waged. But Sacramentans last week were treated to the views of his grandson, Arun Gandhi, who brought his grandfather’s message of nonviolence to California State University at Sacramento.

“Nonviolence requires a lot of courage,” he said. “But we must have that courage if we wish to make a change for a better world.”

September 11 was the culmination of many generations of wrongdoing, which created a hostility so intense that people were willing to die to prove their point, Gandhi said. And before we can rid the world of this evil, we have to come to terms with the role we played in creating it.

We created the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, he said, in order to defeat the Soviets. But we are realizing, maybe too late, that we created a Frankenstein monster, a monster that has a far reach. He urged the audience to see the events of September 11 as a wake-up call.

“We need to look at the weaknesses and imperfections of our country,” he said. “If we ignore them, they will only grow and begin to create more havoc.”

Poverty in the world is directly tied to our wealth as a nation. It is the result of rampant exploitation of the poor, which allows Americans to consume 45 percent of the world’s resources although we’re just 10 percent of the world’s population.

“What about the other 90 percent?” he asked. “Can we continue to live in the style that we have chosen and let the rest of the world fend for themselves? No, we cannot.”

To illustrate this, he explained that for a loaf of bread, an American must work for six minutes. A person from a third world country must work for 20 hours.

“Something which we all need to realize is that nobody is independent,” he said. “What happens to one of us happens to all of us, eventually.”

Gandhi can’t understand the American attack on Afghanistan, especially because there were no Afghani terrorists on any of the September 11 flights. Most of the terrorists were believed to be from Saudi Arabia.

“So why aren’t we doing something about Saudi Arabia?” he asked. “ It is because we want their oil.”

He said destruction of the Taliban regime, or even the killing or capture of bin Laden, will only create more enemies bent on attacking the United States.

“If we kill bin Laden, will we see the end of terrorism?” he asked. “Probably not. We are not looking at the deeper problem.”