The writing, Hope or Terror, by Michael Nagler brought two events, close to a century apart, into comparison. If only we could have applied the principles that Gandhi taught to the attacks on America on September 11th, 2001, we would now be in a very different place as a country. I remember attending a networking meeting within a week of the attacks, and getting into a discussion with a man who felt we should immediately bomb the entire Middle East. I quoted Gandhi’s famous remark: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” He became apoplectic with rage and I backed away from him as he was screaming at me that ‘they’ all need to die. It woke me up to the level of violence and the need for revenge that can be triggered in individuals when they are traumatized and looking for someone to blame.
There are great souls that likely return, over and over, to this earth to teach us peace, love and harmony. My favorite definition of satyagraha is the phrase, ‘soul force.’ These souls that do come here to show us what love looks like are surely a force of the spiritual realms – the few that can actually live their words and beliefs as humans. It’s easy to talk about living a spiritual life, but what that means, day to day, takes great commitment and a constant vigilance over one’s own thoughts, words and deeds. Gandhi taught by his living example of what is possible, just as Jesus and Buddha did, but he took it to the political arena because of the times and place of his life. We are very fortunate to have the trail open to us that he blazed as a peace bringer. He gave us a solid foundation for political activism and the potential evolution of our species.
On page 31 in our reading, there are three things listed that we will not do as peace bringers. To paraphrase, they are 1) To not hate the unfortunate person(s) causing the danger; 2) To prepare only for non-violence (in other words, never to be armed for combat, with guns or words); and 3) To never conclude that force solves any situation – to look for the underlying causes, so we can change what causes violence in the first place.
My favorite take-away from this reading? “Use of physical force is a sign of failure, not success.” If we could only get this installed in the consciousness of America, we could begin to heal at every level: personally, in families, in communities and globally.