Saturday, March 19, 2011

Needing Ghandi

On Thursday when I caught the bus to work, I found myself sitting beside a grandmotherly type with little crocheted flowers with pearl centres sewn on her knitted hat. I smiled at her and commented politely about the weather, and away we went with a lovely little conversation about her grandson, who was just getting off the bus to go to school, until an elderly fellow nearby started asking about the boy's camouflage winter jacket, and whether he liked the army.

The next thing I knew, the two were engaged in a conversation about the importance of the military and how everyone everywhere should be taught to fight, to "knock a few heads together," as the old fellow put it. Then they moved on to discuss incidents of violence on the bus and the playground and how fighting back saved the day, much to the satisfaction of the two storytellers. I listened, but didn't say anything until I got off the bus and wished them both a good day, to which they responded in kind. I walked the four blocks to work, moodling about how two sweet-seeming people could believe that violence should be handled with violence, revel in telling stories of  brutality, and then tell me to "Have a nice day, dear."

I think the whole thing struck a chord because of Ghandi. I keep running across his teachings and sayings about non-violence of late, and not long ago, saw a clip from the 1982 Ben Kingsley movie about the great man. Today we're faced with Libya, a country led by a man who says that he would never shoot bullets at his people (I guess he doesn't consider the folks rebelling against his tyranny to be actual Libyans), a man who places little value on the lives that "get in his way." A UN sanctioned No-Fly zone has finally been established, and for better or worse, conflict has led to more conflict. The "allies" have begun firing cruise missiles and sending fighter jets to "save" Libya, and I suspect my busmates are nodding their heads in approval. As someone who dreams of world peace--and yes, I know it's a dream--I keep wondering how Ghandi would have handled this situation. Libya is clearly not Egypt, as Muammar has a lot more fire power and is using it.

How can the non-violent overcome so much violence, especially when Gadhafi's leading the charge?

Dona la pace, Signore...

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