Never use violence
Sixty-six years ago today, two new countries came into being brought into existence by the efforts of its people eager to escape the yoke of British oppression. It wasn’t without it’s violence but it could have been much worse except for the remarkable efforts of one human being, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the true father of the Indian nation.
As a British citizen, I feel only sorrow for what my fellow men did to the people of India. The massacre at Amritsar was a travesty but still the British carried on oppressing the citizens of India. It makes me ashamed to be associated with a country that woefully wasted the lives of others for no reason. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary deeds and so came probably the most wonderful person this world has ever seen, Gandhi.
Rather than preach that independence should come with civil unrest and violence, he preached that the people should gain their freedom by non-violence. When his words went unheeded by some he vowed to fast until death. He was held in such high regard that the violence stopped. Over the years he led a movement of non violent protest that brought the entire British administration to its knees. Gandhi always said he would get independence but it needed to be on terms where they retained the friendship of Britain.
In the end tensions between Hindus and Muslims caused the great country to be split into Pakistan (predominantly Muslim) and India (Hindu). Separation brought much violence among the respective citizens. Whole communities were pulled apart, something that troubled Gandhi. He always believed that the two communities could live in harmony but the leaders of both communities doubted it. In one last fast, when close to death, the fighting stopped but separation was complete.
In the end Gandhi never saw independence, murdered as he walked through his garden his memory lived on. His legacy lives on though. Maybe today we could do with a lot more non violence. Maybe we need to listen to the wisdom of Bapu and love our fellow man. Gandhi taught us that it didn’t matter what religion or creed we were, we were all equal. In the days of Trump and Brexit, maybe we should follow the teaching and learn to love everyone, not hate. Gandhi said it better with ‘The only devils in this world are those running around in our own hearts, and that is where all our battles should be fought.’
So Happy Birthday India and thank you Bapu for your inspiration.
Originally Published in 2016