Let me preface my diatribe by saying that I have not written an article for the Campus Times in three years, for I have not felt the dire urge to speak out publicly against any parochial qualms. With that said, Arun Gandhi’s relatively recent statement in the Washington Post’s blog and his defense on campus just before spring break have led to a maelstrom of misgivings ranging from the validity of his comments to his treatment in lieu of them. The intention of this article is not to kick a dead horse or further debasement but to take all the pieces of the controversy and put them in a holistic perspective.

As an initial premise, let me just say that in my background research for this article, I have discovered no documentation of any formal specialized education that Gandhi underwent. In his book, “Legacy of Love,” he states how “It is not true that highly educated and learned people are the main sources of wisdom. It often comes from children, and from people without privilege or formal education. Grandfather had little love for the scholastic education he received in schools and colleges? [for] it does not incorporate lessons in how to deal positively with one’s emotions, or how to build better relations with others, nor does it teach how to let compassion guide our thinking so that we can create a cooperative society rather than a cruelly competitive one.” I cite this passage not to invalidate Gandhi’s ethos, for it certainly resonates as ideal in a utopia, but to highlight that this is the type of practical, humanistic philosophy he used to pass judgment on global events and history. The fact of the matter is, though he is a celebrity by heritage and in a role as an advocate for peace, he is by no means an authority on it. True, he spent two years of his young life under the auspices of his grandfather, but he is lacking in any sort of formal education in political science, anthropology, sociology, etc. Gandhi far from qualifies as an informed commentator on global events.

Gandhi seems to think that Israel’s “proliferation of arms” is a direct cause of the “Culture of Violence,” when, in reality, Israel has developed its superior technological industries as a necessary defensive measure against the constant threat of attack by surrounding countries since Israel’s inception.

He thinks that Israel should return territories that it annexed in 1967 to their previous occupants. Look at what happened in the Gaza Strip to see what kind of effect that abdication would have. The volatile comment, however, that really got people’s blood boiling was Gandhi’s declaration that Israel should prevent Holocausts of more than just Jews. He then went on to rhetorically ask what the purpose is of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive.”

The answer is inherent in the obvious contradiction. First of all, Israel, being an incredibly small yet potent nation, does not have the power to just affect widespread change. Second, the very purpose of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is to know that such a tragedy can and has happened so that the players in the international chess game of politics can take the necessary deferential steps to prevent its recurrence.

And this is to say nothing of his claim that the Israelis are responsible for the conflict in the Middle East. One would not expect Gandhi, a spokesman for humanity, to profess such a series of ignorant statements. But then again, he really seems to have little concept of history or political motives when evangelizing his grandfather’s ideology.

The fact of the matter is that nonviolence is so inefficacious, though Gandhi claimed, with a vague possibility of hope, that “It may take a long time and a lot of effort to achieve, it will be an important move for peace.” He thinks that, in reference to Middle Eastern conflict, which has persisted for millennia, that “We can befriend enemies instead of showing enmity” and that “We will never be able to defeat enemies through violence.” That’s very interesting because, as a history major, I have studied the rise and fall of civilizations, and most of them have risen and fallen as a direct result of conquest and violence. It is even more interesting that Gandhi is of Hindu heritage and, being a religion major, I am very aware of the dharmic (dutiful) sense of violence and warfare present in Hindu mythology and philosophy. One has to look no further than the Hindu epic “Mahabharata” to see such ideas pan out.

From the beginning of recorded history, as any naturalist would be honest in telling, the “culture of violence” is human culture expressing animal nature. It is therefore human nature, imbedded deep within our ethos. It is unavoidable, despite technological advances and the implications of globalization. Existence will take its course, and we, as humans, need to stop fighting it. The problem lies in the ubiquity of suffering, but that’s what religion was created to address.

Stillman is a member ofthe class of 2008.



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