Arun Gandhi calls for peace
Grandson of famous Indian peacemaker explains importance of working through anger
Philosophies of peace and nonviolence echoed during a lecture by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson last night at the Rutgers Student Center.
Arun Gandhi spoke to about 150 students about his time living with his grandfather and said the prominent figure taught him a philosophy that uses the anger in our daily lives to come up with nonviolent solutions to problems.
“It is very important that we learn about anger, and we don’t suppress it or deny it, but instead learn how to use it constructively,” he said.
Arun Gandhi said he first came into contact with violence at a young age while living in South Africa, where he was physically abused because of his race.
As a result of the prejudice, Arun Gandhi said he began to develop a tendency for physical violence until his parents sent him to live in India with his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi taught a philosophy that seeks to manage physical violence, such as fighting, and passive violence, a more common form that involves anything that can hurt someone without physically touching them, he said.
“We commit passive violence every day and that generates anger in the victim and the victim results in physical violence for justice,” he said.
Arun Gandhi said philosophies of peace have become more relevant today than in previous generations because of the increasing focus on materialism in the modern world.
“My grandfather said materialism and morality have an inverse relationship, so when one increases, the other decreases,” he said. “We must find a balance between the two, so we can live a moral and compassionate life.”
Yet changes in the world should not be expected to come through sweeping shifts in humanity’s collective philosophies, Arun Gandhi said. Instead, the changes must begin inside of individuals before they can make their way into the public sphere.
Arun Gandhi offered advice to the crowd and said those interested in changing themselves should make a habit of constantly evaluating their personal flaws and trying to come up with ways to fix them, a method Mahatma Gandhi practiced throughout his life.
“We must make a determined effort every day to become better human beings than [we] were yesterday,” he said.
Arun Gandhi spoke against the critics who claim that human beings are naturally violent, and said that the presence of military academies and martial arts classes prove them wrong because they show violence is a learned experience and not instinctual.
“Anything that is a learned experience can be unlearned,” he said.
Kyle Daniele, vice president of the Rutgers University Programming Association’s Arts and Culture committee, said the event is a part of RUPA’s vision to provide the students with entertainment and education addressing social and cultural issues.
“With Arun Gandhi, he was a perfect choice because in his lecture he spreads the philosophies of his grandfather such as peace in everyday life around the world,” said Daniele, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Daniele said the occasion marked Arun Gandhi’s first ever visit to the University.
“We have been planning this event since the summer,” he said. “There has been a lot of interest on Facebook just because he is such a cultural and historical figure.”
Kelley Shann, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said she originally came to the event because it was an assignment in her class for transfer students, but was pleasantly surprised when she saw the keynote speaker.
“When I first saw the title of it, I saw the name ‘Gandhi’ and I was thinking there’s no way he’s related to the actual Gandhi, and then I looked him, and it’s his grandson, and I thought it’s cool that a very prominent figure speaking to us.”