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Modern society is plagued by violence – in homes, at the work place, in the streets, and now even in the schools. These horrible deeds outline exactly what Mohandas Gandhi was trying to stop. Gandhi also was against another type of violence, known as passive violence. This includes greed, selfishness, prejudice, bigotry, oppression, hate, and so on. In the words of Mohandas Gandhi, “Passive violence causes anger and anger leads to physical violence.”
Mohandas Gandhi was born in Porbandar, India on October 2nd, 1896. Gandhi got his first taste of hatred and racism when he arrived as a legal advisor in Durban, South Africa. He, as well as other Indian immigrants were denied their civil liberties and political rights. This, as he would find out, would be just the first of many struggles he would encounter. (“Encarta Encyclopedia,” [CD-ROM])
In 1896, after being attacked and beaten by white South Africans, Gandhi began to teach a policy of passive resistance to the white South African authorities. In 1914 the government of South Africa finally conceded some of Gandhi’s requests: recognizing Indian marriages, and the abolition of the poll tax for them. (“Encarta Encyclopedia,” [CD-ROM])
Following World War I, Gandhi launched his passive resistance movement to Great Britain. In 1919, Parliament passed the Rowlatt Acts, giving Indian colonial authorities the power to deal with resistance acts such as Gandhi’s. This persecution led millions to join in Gandhi’s passive resistance movement. Gandhi proclaimed an organized campaign of “noncooperation.” Indians in public office resigned, courts and other government agencies were boycotted, and Indian children were taken from public schools. Economic independence was also one of Gandhi’s self-ruling projects. The exploitation of Indian workers resulted in extreme poverty. Gandhi became the international symbol for a free India. (“Encarta Encyclopedia,” [CD-ROM])
Since Mohandas Gandhi’s catastrophic assassination in 1948, the teaching’s of this great man have inspired movements and organizations elsewhere in the world. One great example of this is the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence. This organization was founded by Arun Gandhi (Mohandas Gandhi’s grandson). In Arun Gandhi’s words:
“The mission of the M.K. Gandhi Institute is to promote and apply the principles of nonviolence locally, nationally, and globally, to prevent violence and resolve persona; and public conflicts through research, education, and programming.”
Arun and his wife started this institute with funding provided by the selling of Mohandas Gandhi’s letters to his son – Arun’s parents. The institute is hosted by the Christian Brothers University. Most of the institutes educational programs are based on conflict prevention, anger management, and relationship/community building. The institute has many programs for young people which are held in after school sessions. The institute also holds worldwide “Nonviolence and You” workshops.
All of the programs, projects and workshops that the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence hold are meant as teaching devices for children and adults to use back in their own communities. They are in touch with many other organizations dedicated to nonviolence worldwide. The founder, Arun Gandhi, holds lectures at colleges around the world to make people aware that there are ways of settling all of our differences without hatred, fighting, or other violent activities.
Results from this Institute are immeasurable. Thousands of people have been affected by lectures and programs. They hold after-school peacekeeping programs which help students, especially those in high-risk neighborhoods, develop skills to prevent violence, resolve problems, and settle disputes in a peaceful manner. They hold a world renowned mini-course called Gandhi’s Institute Alternative Spring Break. It helps college students from around the world gain knowledge in nonviolence, and is combined with service work in the community. The “YES Program” (Youth Experience Success) is another award winning, community service program that helps individuals and groups learn how to take care of themselves without harming others. It focuses on conflict prevention, communication skills, and problem solving. The program emphasizes teamwork to plan and then do community projects as it prepares young people to become peacemakers.
Also, many colleges and universities have now instituted programs in an effort at community nonviolence in response to lectures given. The simplicity of Arun Gandhi’s approach is a major reason for the success of this organization. Students are encouraged to follow Mohandas Gandhi’s advice and “Be the change we wish to see.”
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