Lessons Learned from My Grandfather: Non-Violence in a Violent World
In this unique presentation, peace activist Dr. Arun Gandhi shares personal memories and reflections on his grandfather, legendary spiritual leader Mohandas Gandhi. As our culture becomes smaller, we truly become global citizens. As the globe’s population explodes, growing pains are to be expected as we attempt to live and work closer together—so how can we interact peacefully? There are many cultural, personal, religious and ideological differences that set us apart and keep us at war—both figuratively and metaphorically. Dr. Gandhi says that “9/11 has brought violence to a new level… in 1945, after the bomb was thrown on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a correspondent asked grandfather: ‘What do you think the future of the world is going to be?’ And his response was that ‘we no longer have the luxury of choosing between violence and nonviolence. The option is nonviolence or non-existence.
Dr. Arun Gandhi is proof that one can change his ways. Although he is the grandson of the legendary Mohandas Gandhi, he overcame tremendous prejudice and anger in order to become the founder and president of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute. Born in South Africa in 1934, Dr. Gandhi experienced enormous prejudice due to the color of his skin. He was despised by whites for being black, and by blacks for being too light. At the young age of ten, he became a victim of racial violence; in turn, he became angry, bitter and violent himself. To spare him the fate of growing up in that environment, his parents took him to live with his grandfather in India. It made an impression; the young Dr. Gandhi learned the rudiments of the philosophy of nonviolence and how to peacefully navigate relationships. Concerned with the terrorism, violence and anger in the world, Dr. Gandhi speaks on his grandfather’s philosophies as well as how to quell and mitigate unrest. Dr. Gandhi believes that it’s important to reach children with messages of hope and peace; he co-authored a children’s book to tell the story of how Grandfather Gandhi helped him discover that “anger can illuminate. It can turn darkness into light.” Such lessons are essential for children to learn in order to make positive change. Among many of his missions, Dr. Gandhi rescues impoverished and exploited children, and provides them with food, shelter, clothing and basic education in order to help them transcend their environments and become peaceable, productive citizens.
Soft-spoken but strong, Dr. Gandhi uses the power of his words — in addition to activism — to enact social change. He served the poor in India where he was exiled by the apartheid government of South Africa for marrying an Indian woman, his wife Sunanda. Together, the couple developed several economic programs that empowered millions of the poor, both economically and morally. Today, these programs continue to grow and spread economic stability and human compassion.
With turmoil and conflict rising up at home and abroad, our global society needs Dr. Gandhi’s crucial understanding and essential messages of constructive encouragement. For several years, he has participated in Renaissance Weekend deliberations with former President Bill Clinton and other acclaimed Rhodes Scholars. As the world has become more chaotic, demand has increased for Dr. Gandhi’s expertise; he has spoken all over the world for associations, colleges and organizations — in places such as North America, Milan, Croatia, France, Ireland, Holland, Lithuania, Nicaragua, China, Scotland and Japan. As his renowned grandfather Mohandas Gandhi once said: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”
Gandhi, Arun, "Lessons Learned from My Grandfather: Non-Violence in a Violent World" (2017). Kenner Lectures on Cultural Understanding and Tolerance. 2.