Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gandhi's Children

Gandhi's Children

Time Magazine back in 1999 published The Children of Gandhi some of the names featured in the article appear below but there are others who have followed Mohandas Gandhi's path and on the 140th anniversary of his birth it seems appropriate to highlight "Gandhi's children."

They span different continents and decades confronting injustice wherever it appears and are arranged below in no particular order and is incomplete:

Aung San Suu Kyi: Military Junta in Burma

"What is there to be discouraged about? Gandhi said the victory is in the struggle itself. The struggle itself is the most important thing. I tell our followers that when we achieve democracy, we will look back with nostalgia on the struggle and how pure we were." -Aung San Suu Kyi

"I think this is the case in the great majority of authoritarian states: on the surface, because of repression, everything seems frozen, but when the sun comes out and the ice melts, you find that there was a lot of life underneath all along." -Aung San Suu Kyi

"Please use your liberty to promote ours." -Aung San Suu Kyi
Taken from

Steven Biko: Apartheid South Africa

"The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."

*From White Racism and Black Consciousness

"The system concedes nothing without demand, for it formulates its very method of operation on the basis that the ignorant will learn to know, the child will grow into an adult and therefore demands will begin to be made. It gears itself to resist demands in whatever way it sees fit."

* The Quest for a True Humanity

Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet: Castroite Cuba

"To love one's neighbor is also to love one's enemy. Although in reality that qualifier-"enemy" does not exist in my vocabulary. I recognize that I only have adversaries and I have acquired the capacity to love them because in this way we do away with violence, wrath, vengeance, hatred and substitute them with justice and forgiveness."
- Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet Gonzalez,
upon completing 40 day fast in 1999 to protest 40 years of dictatorship

His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Chinese Occupation of Tibet

"Many ancient Indian masters have preached nonviolence as a philosophy. That was a more spiritual understanding of it. Mahatma Gandhi, in this twentieth century, produced a very sophisticated approach because he implemented that very noble philosophy of nonviolence in modern politics, and he succeeded. That is a very great thing. It has represented an evolutionary leap in political consciousness, his experimentation with truth."
-- His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in an interview with Catherine Ingram, from "The Dalai Lama, A Policy of Kindness", published by Snow Lion Publications.

Jorge Valls: Castroite and Batista Cuba

"Without civil rights, the best intentions turn into a trap, and societies become prisons and asylums. There is a danger that we become as alienated and as fierce as the evil we think we are fighting.That is what happened in Cuba under the Castro regime. In 1964, I was convicted of 'conspiracy against the state,' because I testified against the Castro government in a political trial, and I spent 20 years and 40 days in jail. I don't regret my time there, because I was defending this essential respectability of the human person."
-Jorge Valls

Abdul Ghaffar Khan: British India & Pakistan

He was a Pashtun political and spiritual leader known for his non-violent opposition to British Rule in India. A lifelong pacifist, a devout Muslim, and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, he was also known as Badshah Khan (also Bacha Khan, Urdu, Pashto: lit., "King Khan"), and Sarhaddi Gandhi (Urdu, Hindi lit., "Frontier Gandhi").

"I am going to give you such a weapon that the police and the army will not be able to stand against it. It is the weapon of the Prophet, but you are not aware of it. That weapon is patience and righteousness. No power on earth can stand against it."
-Abdul Ghaffar Khan

"I had to go to prison many a time in the days of the Britishers. Although we were at loggerheads with them, yet their treatment was to some extent tolerant and polite. But the treatment which was meted out to me in this Islamic state of ours was such that I would not even like to mention it to you."
-Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.: Racist & Segregationist United States of America

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. ... Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

- Martin Luther King Jr. Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community? (1967), p. 62

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
: Castroite Cuba

"There are still those who perpetuate the myth that the exercising of political and civil rights is an alternative to a society’s ability to achieve social justice and development. They are not mutually exclusive. The absence of any civil and political rights in Cuba has had serious consequences such as inequality, the poverty of the majority and privileges of a minority and the deterioration of certain services, even though these were conceived as a positive system to benefit to the people."

Taken from:'s_speech.htm

"The first victory we can claim is that our hearts are free of hatred. Hence we say to those who persecute us and who try to dominate us: ‘You are my brother. I do not hate you, but you are not going to dominate me by fear. I do not wish to impose my truth, nor do I wish you to impose yours on me. We are going to seek the truth together’."

Taken from:'s_speech.htm

Vaclav Havel: Communist Czechoslovakia

“The spiritual ethos that came to fruition in the work of Gandhi was a thousand years in the making on the great Indian subcontinent. This work is one of the major contributions of your country to modern history. It is an inspiring contribution, the impact of which can be observed again and again in all corners of the globe.”
-Vaclav Havel

“I am one of Mahatma Gandhi's admirers, and, if I may be so bold, I believe that a reflection of his life's work might even be seen in the attempt my friends and I made, in Charter 77, to create a nonviolent opposition to the totalitarian regime in our country. This aspect of our activity later had a positive influence on the course of our anti-totalitarian revolution in 1989.”
-Vaclav Havel

“If I were to say what fascinated me most about Gandhi's life, I would have to mention his stance immediately after your country gained independence, when, entirely alone, he placed himself in the path of the bloody battles between the Hindus and the Moslems and was able in Calcutta, for example, but later here in Delhi as well to stop those merciless conflicts and compel the warring factions to shake hands.” […]Gandhi's act was a triumph of human charisma over mob passions. It was a great victory for the ideas of nonviolence, tolerance, coexistence, and understanding. It was a great victory for what I would call the moral minimum, which links people of all cultures, over mutual antipathy springing from differences of faith and cultural traditions.
-Vaclav Havel

Taken from

Lech Walesa: Communist Poland

"When I recall my own path of life I cannot but speak of the violence, hatred and lies. A lesson drawn from such experiences, however, was that we can effectively oppose violence only if we ourselves do not resort to it."

Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture 1983

"The defense of our rights and our dignity, as well as efforts never to let ourselves to be overcome by the feeling of hatred - this is the road we have chosen."

Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture 1983

Lech Walesa's Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1983

Benigno and Cory Aquino: Marcos Dictatorship in Philippines

"In a revolution there can really be no victors, only victims. We do not have to destroy in order to build." -Benigno Servillano Aquino

“Reconciliation should be accompanied by justice, otherwise it will not last. While we all hope for peace it shouldn't be peace at any cost but peace based on principle, on justice.”
- Corazon Aquino

"According to Gandhi, the willing sacrifice of the innocent is the most powerful answer to insolent tyranny that has yet been conceived by God and man." -Benigno Servillano Aquino

“It is true you cannot eat freedom and you cannot power machinery with democracy. But then neither can political prisoners turn on the light in the cells of a dictatorship.”
- Corazon Aquino

"I have returned to join the ranks of those struggling to restore our rights and freedom through nonviolence. I seek no confrontation." - Benigno Servillano Aquino

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