Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was 78 years old at the time and while I'm sure it hurt like hell, I suspect he died at peace knowing that he was doing what was he was the most passionate about: spreading a message of non-violence. If there is an afterlife, I'm quite sure the irony has not escaped him.
For those not familiar with the little dude, he is notable for a) looking like Ben Kingsley with a haircut and b) promoting 'resistance to evil through active, non-violent resistance' all over the world. All while wearing a robe. Nobody had the panache and the ability to pull that off like the G-Man.
As an aside - and as a card carrying cynic - it is not always a fair characterization to say that Gandhi's calling cards of non-cooperation, civil disobedience and peaceful resistance, however effective they may be at times, are really all that peaceful. Protesting for one's belief can create major and costly disruptions for innocent others (businesses, uninvolved citizens, etc.) and over-burden the systems that insure one's safe protest (fire, police, traffic, sanitation, etc.). To many of us, that is not very peaceful at all.
But I digress...
Martin Luther King, Jr., another civil rights shootee, was a big fan of Gandhi and tried to mirror his own peace movement after Gandhi. By most accounts, however, MLK must have gotten his
But there is much more to the story of the Mahatma than that.
Gandhi was forced into marriage at age 13, had five children that all died as infants, was pressured into being a lawyer and never had the pleasure of knowing what a Quarter Pounder with Cheese tastes like. As a follower of Hindu, he agreed to not eat meat. But did you know that his zeal for vegetarianism was because he disliked the mutton and cabbage at his English boarding school? His association with vegetarians led him to hooking up with a religious based outfit that preached something called Theosophy. What? Well, Theosophites among other things practiced a belief in "root races" and believed in them each evolving separately. Yep, that's pretty racist by most definitions. In fact, his group believed that Hebrews and Arabs were a sub class of Aryans. Who would have guessed, eh?
So after law school Gandhi, the veggie eating, racist, lawyer (now, stay with me just a little longer please!) went back home to India. He was unsuccessful in getting a job as a teacher so he started chasing ambulances, ergo, filing complaints on behalf of other aggrieved citizens.
Shortly thereafter, in South Africa, Gandhi had his butt pummelled by a cab driver for refusing to make room for a European. Sound familiar? That was a turning point in his life and the rest, say it together now....is history.
So let's review:
Boy grows up in oppressive, trauma filled childhood, gets pressured by his parents into pursuing a higher education, experiences incredible loss, has his principles challenged in the real world, eats crummy food, fails to get a good job but settles for less, falls into a group of people that prompts him to shape his belief structure, has an, uh, epiphany, uses his life's lessons to solidify the principles that help excel to the top of his chosen field of endeavor, shaves his head, struggles with societal oppression the way he struggled with his childhood oppression, inspires change in the way millions of people think and act, becomes a martyr for his cause, is deified by many generations to come, has a movie made after him...and of course has the honor of being chronicled here at D3. In summary....like most successful people, Gandhi fell down, but kept getting back up.
"Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success."
So, besides the 5 babies dying when you are 13, is there not much difference between your kids, my kids and Farmer John's kids? And for that matter, does his life sound like our own life? We are all a sum of our life's lessons and even though Gandhi's life's lessons are 1/2 a world, a couple of generations and a funny dialect away, they are still eerily similar, dontchathink?
I suppose history is supposed to teach us that Gandhi was superhuman at being humble, grateful and giving; And that is why he is now revered the world over and forever linked to success in civil rights, non violence and baldness. The reality is though that every modicum of his success was preceded by numerous failures, hardships and disappointments.
So I submit that the greatest lessons from his story are the same lessons that have already defined our own stories and that already form the basis of our parenting:
"A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships."
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