Mahatma Gandhi

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I believe in the fundamental Truth of all great religions of the world. I believe they are all God given and I believe they were necessary for the people to whom these religions were revealed. And I believe that if only we could all of us read the scriptures of the different faiths from the standpoint of the followers of these faiths, we should find that they were at the bottom all one and were all helpful to one another. – M K Gandhi

Because of the odd way that history was taught during my primary and secondary school careers, the first I ever heard of Mahatma Gandhi was the 1982 film. I was in year 8, and my mother decided that she would buy tickets and take us to the cinema to see the film. I remember it very clearly, and remember the impact both the film and the man had on me. I don’t think I had a particularly protected upbringing, but I was unaware that there was such injustice in the world, and that it was possible for people to be discriminated against purely on the basis of who they were – the colour of their skin. The notion that a system of racist and classist institutions could perpetuate and protect discrimination was very confronting too. I was also struck by the power of Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence and non-resistance. If I’m truthful, it was also the first time I was hit by the notion that the culture I come from was violent, and not superior to others.

Gandhi is a hero for me because he strove to live truly, honestly, simply, and tried to make a difference by virtue of his convictions. He lived as he believed, and the integrity of his life shone out. As a real person, with appetites, aches, pains, desires, hopes and aspirations, he speaks to me and provides me with the example of a brother who has trodden the way. Would that I could live with the same integrity.

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