Last week I had a hunger to connect with a great historical leader. I decided to rent the 1982 movie Gandhi staring Ben Kingsley which won the Academy Award for Best Picture. While I realize that Hollywood can make anything look epic, watching the story of Mahatma Gandhi’s life unfold on screen quenched my starvation. I felt the tremendous vibration this very powerful soul brought forth while on this planet. I was reminded how loved and respected he was by both the Muslims and Hindus (and the world) and how his unceasing commitment to non-violence created solidarity and drove one of the most powerful empires to its knees through passive resistance. I was also reminded of the respect and dignity he displayed towards the British Empire while standing up to it and requesting that India be recognized as a free nation.
If I had it within my power I would ask our presidential and vice-presidential candidates to watch the movie. I would ask every American citizen to sit down and watch it as well. The reason for my request comes from a selfish desire – I would like to restore the values of respect, dignity, and verbal non-violence back into our political process.
I wonder if the accelerating, aggressive, and often unsubstantiated mud-slinging that we are experiencing in our elections would have been endorsed by Mr. Gandhi? Since the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate I’ve been besieged with e-mails that quite frankly amount to character assignation. The TV ads being produced by both parties at all levels of the election process are classless and mean-spirited. As a leader, Gandhi insisted that respect and dignity be directed at the British government, even after the slaughter of over 1,500 Indian citizens occurred at the hands of a misguided English general. Gandhi proved to the world that opposition can occur in an energy that maintains the dignity and nobility of the opposing point of view.
Every candidate, regardless of their party affiliation, is a child of God. God speaks to each of them. They are deeply passionate about their calling and they have done something that the majority of us have not done. They have chosen the path of being a public servant. Each believes they are doing the best thing for America. Our duty as citizens is to make a choice as to whom we believe in. Our duty as human beings is to honor the efforts of all.
If we believe in the concept of Solidarity then we must apply the concept all the way. To disrespect one we are showing complete disrespect for all – including ourselves. Gandhi understood this. Yes, we absolutely have the right and duty to oppose the things in life that reduce human consciousness. Let us pose our opposition or support in the energy of love…not hate; in the space of acceptance… not attack; in the spirit of reverence… not disrespect. Speak your voice with honor towards your Brothers and Sisters.
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