Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi and co-founder of the M. K. Gandhi Center for Non-violence, delivered a speech on the topic of “Terrorism and Non-violence: Choices for the Future” on Tuesday evening at the Interfaith Chapel. The discourse was part of a series of ten events that make up the Humanities Project, which aims to promote the humanities through discussions, films, and exhibitions.

“We tend to look at terrorism in its final stage when it strikes us,” Ghandi said. “Until then we ignored the whole situation. Until then we didn’t even think that there were people that hated us because we were quite content to live our own life in our own society.”

Throughout the speech, Gandhi combined the seemingly paradoxical elements of non-violence and terrorism to show that the former could be used to combat the latter. In making references from the plethora of anecdotes of his grandfather’s eventful life as the pioneer of non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi explained that the philosophies that his grandfather created were effective in many of his endeavors, including India’s successful independence from Britain.

“His speech is accessible, clear and compassionate,” sophomore Eliza Kaye said. “He provides a unifying force and empowers us as students. He shows us how we have the ability and chance to make a difference.”

Arun Gandhi and his wife Sunanda created the Gandhi Center for Non-violence at the Christian Brothers University in 1991 to teach programs on conflict prevention, diversity training, and anger management. The couple currently resides in Rochester and is exploring the possibility of moving the center from its current location in Memphis, Tenn. to the Rochester area.

During his speech, Gandhi was critical of the Bush Administration’s actions in combating terror after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“Our anger was soaked by administration so that they could get the justification they wanted to declare a war on terrorism,” Ghandi said. “Now we ended up spending $300 billion in fighting a war that’s going to go on perpetually.”

During the question-and-answer period that followed the speech, Gandhi reiterated to the audience the necessary elements to achieve non-violence and the pragmatism that his grandfather’s philosophies hold in dealing with terrorism effectively.

“Today we have relationships, whether interpersonal or international, which are based on what is good for us and on what we are going to gain from the relationship. That’s’ a negative way of building a relationship,” Gandhi said. “They must be based on love, compassion, and respect, not self interests. And if we as the United States had done this years ago, we would not be facing terrorism.”

The Humanities Project was the result of the cooperation between the Humanities Department and President Joel Seligman, who pledged $100,000 of the President’s Venture Fund to subsidize the events.

“Gandhi brings up a discussion that we need to continue to have about the ways of discovering our differences and being open to one another in order to reduce uncivil behaviors,” Catholic Newman Community Director Father Brian Cool said. “He was able to articulate and humanize a very important figure in our community that many people admire and respect.”Fernandez can be reached at mfernandez@campustimes.org.



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