Community Lecture by Arun Gandhi

Aliso Viejo, California | August 23, 2001

Founders Hall and Peace Lake calm and blue

Anger is like electricity. It’s just as useful and just as powerful as electricity is, but only if we use it intelligently.

Community Lecture by Arun Gandhi at Soka University, Aliso Viejo, on August 23, 2001, following the Dedication of Mohandas and Kasturba Gandhi Hall.

Introduction by Daniel Y. Habuki, President, SUA:

Arun and his wife Sunanda founded the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, Tennessee. Arun is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. At age 13 he was sent from South Africa to live with his grandfather for two years during this critical time that led up to India’s independence in 1947. In 1957 Arun returned to India where he worked as a journalist. In 1987 Arun and Sunanda moved to the United States on a research grant to work on a comparative study of prejudices in South Africa, India, and the United States. Four years later they opened the M. K. Gandhi Institute For Nonviolence at Christian Brothers University in Memphis. Here they currently reside and work for nonviolence throughout the world. It is my great pleasure today to introduce and welcome Arun Gandhi.

Arun Gandhi:

Thank you very much. After the wonderful singing and the wonderful dancers, I wouldn’t like to bore you with a long lecture. It was a real wonderful effort and I’d like to thank you all for this evening. It brought back memories of India and it made me feel like we were back at home and thank you.

These days whenever I go out and speak on nonviolence, everybody wants to know what can I go and do in Ireland; what can I go and do in the Middle East to bring peace there? But nonviolence is not about one individual going and working for peace in any troubled spot. Nonviolence is more about how we behave towards each other and how we incorporate the philosophy of nonviolence in our own lives. Because all of the trouble that is taking place all over the world is an expression of the violence that exists within ourselves. And unless we become the change we wish to see in the world, there won’t be any peace anywhere. So we have to begin with ourselves. And I hope that tonight after my talk you will be convinced that nonviolence has to begin with you, and that you will make an effort to make this a part of your attitude and your life.

I would like to invite you to participate in a little game with me. I’d like each one of you to partner up with the person sitting next to you. Do you all have a partner? I’d like one member of the partnership to make a tight fist and imagine that you have the world’s most precious diamond in your fist, and I’d like the other member to open the fist. Thank you very much. Tell me very honestly, how many of you asked the other person to open the fist? [laughter, applause]. So you see how violent we are. I simply asked you to have the fist opened, but instead of asking, everybody became physical and started using violence. It’s an indication that we need change in our attitudes and in our hearts.

I was involved this afternoon, as all of you were there, in dedicating this building to my grandparents. And it brought back some memories of old times. You were told by the mayor that grandfather and grandmother were engaged at the age of seven, and they were married at the age of 13. And there’s a story there, which grandfather acknowledges in his autobiography where he says that he learned the philosophy of nonviolence from grandmother and it all happened when they were still newly married. They were just teenagers and at that time grandfather didn’t know what the role of a husband should be. Who should dominate? Who should lay down the rules? What should happen? And so he went and got books and pamphlets on the subject. And obviously, all those books and pamphlets were written by male chauvinists, because they all spoke about how the husband should lay down the rules and enforce the rules and see that the wife obeys them.

And so he came home that evening and he told grandmother, he said, “From tomorrow you are not going to start out of the house without my permission.” And grandmother heard him quietly. Didn’t say anything at all; didn’t respond. She just quietly went to bed, woke up the next day and she continued to do what she always did. She went out and visited and never bothered to ask grandfather for permission. And after a few days when grandfather realized that she was not obeying him, he confronted her again. He said, “How dare you disobey me. Haven’t I told you that you should not start out of the house without my permission?” And at that moment grandmother very quietly, very peacefully tells him, she says “I was brought up to believe that we must always obey the elders in the house. And I think that the elders in this house are your parents. Now if you are telling me that I should not obey your parents, but obey you instead let me know so I can go and tell your mother that I am not going to obey them anymore.” And of course grandfather couldn’t tell her to do that. And so the whole matter was settled without any anger or any violence. And grandfather says that that was the most profound lesson in nonviolence that he learned in his life.

Now imagine yourself in that situation. If somebody told you that you are not going to do this or not going to do that, what would your reaction be? We would immediately flare up and say who are you to tell me to do this or don’t do that and I’m not going to obey you. And immediately we would escalate that conflict to a level where we would not be able to control it anymore. And that’s what happens to us all the time. We face situations like this, we loose our tempers and we escalate the conflicts.

I’ve experienced the same thing. As you were told in the introduction, I grew up in South Africa. I became a victim of prejudices. I was beaten up by white youths because they thought I was too black and then a few months later I was beaten up by black youths because they thought I was too white. And I was so angry that I wanted eye-for-an-eye justice. And it became an obsession with me, and I subscribed to Charles Atlas’s exercise programs to pump iron so that I could deal with these people. And that’s when my parents decided to take me to India and give me the opportunity to live with grandfather.

And the first lesson that he taught me was about understanding anger and using that anger positively. He said anger is like electricity. It’s just as useful and just as powerful as electricity is, but only if we use it intelligently. But it can be just as deadly and destructive if we abuse it. So just as we use electricity intelligently, channel it and bring it into our lives and use it for all the good things that we use electricity for, we must learn to use anger in the same way. Channel that energy so that we can use it for the good of humanity, rather than abuse anger and destroy ourselves and destroy each other. He asked me to write an anger journal. He said, “Every time you feel anger coming up for whatever reason don’t pour it out on somebody or something, but write it all out in a journal. But write the journal with the intention of finding a solution to the problem, and not just pouring your anger out into the book.”

I’ve met a lot of young people who tell me that they have been writing an anger journal for a long time, but it hasn’t really helped them because every time they go back and read the journal they are just reminded of the whole situation. And they become angry all over again and that’s not what we want. We want to be able to put that anger aside. We want to be able to solve the situation so that we don’t face it over and over again. And we can do that only if we write the journal with the intention of finding a solution, and then commit ourselves to finding a solution to the problem.

I did this for many years, and I was able to learn how to channel my anger and channel the negative energy into positive action. And I believe that everybody who makes an effort can also achieve these results. It is only by doing that that we would be able to reduce the level of violence that we see in our world. If we analyze the violence today, we’ll find that more than 80 percent of the violence that consumes our societies is generated by anger. Something happens or doesn’t happen and people get angry and they blow up and do all kinds of crazy things. And once it is done, there is nothing you can do to change it.

I’ve been in correspondence with some prisoners trying to teach them nonviolence. It all started rather accidentally. I was in Philadelphia speaking at a university there and the Philadelphia Inquirer did a long interview with me and published that interview. And this newspaper went into the local prison there. And the next thing was I got a letter from this person who tells me in his letter that he was a drug dealer and he had a partner and they were very good friends. And one day they had a dispute and they were outside in the roadside. His partner was sitting in the car and he was standing outside and they had this heated argument. And his partner reached under the seat of the car to get something and this person, I won’t mention his name because of privacy. I’ve not told him that I am going to use his story in public. So forgive me, but we’ll call him “P.”

So Mr. P. felt that this person was going for his gun so he pulled out his gun from his back pocket and shot him and killed him. And of course he was arrested, and tried, and put into prison. But at the trial he realized the mistake that he had made. And he says he tried to speak to the widow of his friend and the children and apologize to them. But they didn’t want to look at him. They didn’t want to speak to him. So they turned away from him. So the gist of his letter was “where is your nonviolence? I went there to apologize and they wouldn’t even listen to me.” And I thought it was a very arrogant statement that he was making. And I wrote back to him and I told him, I said you are not just speaking about slapping somebody and saying sorry. You are talking about having killed somebody and changed the life of that family forever. It’s never going to be the same again. And how can you expect that just because you go and say sorry that they are going to forgive you. I said, “Maybe they are never going to forgive you at all. But you will have to ask for forgiveness every day of your life, every moment of your life. And not only ask for it, but, you’ll have to live it. And maybe somebody will then forgive you for this.”

And I think I touched a chord somewhere in him and he has begun to correspond with me regularly and we have become very close friends and he has become a very transformed human being. But what I want to illustrate with the story is that one moment of madness that made him pull out his gun and shoot his friend, that one moment when he was angry transformed his life completely. Now how many such moments we have in our own lives when we do something crazy and maybe not to that extent of killing somebody. But we destroy relationships. We destroy friendships. We don’t speak to people because of one little thing that’s happened. So anger causes a lot of violence in us. And if we can only learn how to transform that anger and use it positively, it would be a great help to everybody to bring peace in this world. Also we have to remember, when we talk about violence, it’s not just the physical violence that we see around us. There is much more to it than just physical violence.

And grandfather made me aware of this one day when I was coming back from school and I had this little notebook, writing pad, and a pencil. And I was about 13 years old at the time, quite an irresponsible 13 year old. Walking home absentmindedly I looked at the pencil. It was about three inches long, and I said, “I deserve a better pencil.” This is too small for me to use. And I was so confident that grandfather would give me a new pencil that without a second thought, I threw that pencil away. And that evening when I went and asked grandfather for a new pencil, instead of giving me one he subjected me to a lot of questions. He wanted to know what happened to the pencil I had in the morning, how did it become small, where did I throw it away, and on and on and on. And I couldn’t understand why he was making such a fuss over a little pencil until he told me to go out and look for it. And I said, “You must be joking! You don’t expect me to go out and look for a pencil in the dark?” He said, “Oh yes I do, and here’s a flashlight.” And he sent me out with the flashlight to look for this pencil and I must have spent two or three hours searching for it. And when I finally found it and brought it to him he said, “Now I want you to sit here and learn two very important lessons.”

The first lesson is that even in the making of a simple thing like a pencil we use a lot of the world’s natural resources and when we throw them away we are throwing away the world’s natural resources and that is violence against nature. Lesson number two, is that because in an affluent country we can afford to buy all these things in bulk, we over consume the resources of the world. And because we over consume them, we are depriving people elsewhere of these resources and they have to live in poverty. And that is violence against humanity. And that was the first time I realized all of these little things that we do every day. I mean just think about it how many useful things we throw away every day because we have such a lot of it. How much food we throw away every day. How many good clothes we throw away because we have new ones. All of this every time we throw away something and waste something is violence. He made me draw a family tree of violence using the same principle as we do a genealogical tree with violence as the grandparent and physical violence and passive violence as the two off-springs.

Now physical violence is something we know about because it hurts and we see it all the time on television and in the media and everywhere. It’s all the physical manifestation of violence, all the wars, and killings and beatings and murders and rapes and all of these things where we use physical force against each other. But passive violence is something that we can ignore because we don’t use any physical force and therefore we think that we are not really hurting anybody. And passive violence is all of these little things, all the waste and all the precious things that we throw away, the over consumption, the oppression, the suppression, the hate, the prejudice, the teasing, the name-calling. All the things, which hurt somebody is passive violence. And all of us as I demonstrated to you a few moments ago come into contact with passive violence all the time both consciously and unconsciously. And all of that passive violence adds up so that the victims of that passive violence then explode into physical violence. So it is passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence. So logically if we want to put out the fire of physical violence we have to cut off the fuel supply. And the fuel supply comes from us. So unless we become the change we wish to see in the world, unless we acknowledge that we are violent people and that we need to do something about it, we won’t do anything about it. We’ll just sit back and look at somebody else to change and so nobody changes and we have all the violence and strife in the world growing and multiplying all the time. So if we become the change, we can bring about peace and understanding in the world.

There are many, many stories that I can share with you, all of them illustrating how we can become peaceful and nonviolent. How we can work for peace in this world. But I’d like to share two more with you, two of the stories that have to deal with parenting. That’s another question that I’m constantly asked every time. That you talk about nonviolence, that’s fine we can be nonviolent outside, but how can we be nonviolent at home with our children? How do we bring up children nonviolently? I have many emails coming to me constantly on this subject and I have to keep answering them. But working with the children is as important as working with yourself. Because what we give our children will make their future. If we teach our children punishment and violence is good, then they’re going to grow up and become violent themselves see. And so these stories, these two stories illustrate the point.

The first story occurred in the ashram when I was living with him [grandfather] at an earlier time when we went to India in 1914 when I was six years old. And in the ashram there was another family who had a six-year-old boy and we became really good friends and we would play together and all that. This boy had a tremendous sweet tooth. I mean he just could not resist sweets at all. He had to have some sweets all the time, and if he couldn’t get any deserts or candy or anything, he would just take spoons full of sugar and eat it. And the result was that he started getting a rash all over his body. And his parents took him to the doctor and the doctor said that he should not be given any kind of sweets until he is cured; complete stop of all sweets. So the parents came home and every day they would nag him and tell him that he was not going to get any sweets. The doctor has said no. And yet they would have sweets on the table and they would eat it. And so this young boy didn’t obey his parents. When nobody was looking he would grab some and eat it.

After a few days when his mother realized that he wasn’t obeying them she brought him to grandfather and pleaded with grandfather to speak to this boy and explain to him that he should not eat sweets. And grandfather said, “You come back after 15 days and I’ll speak to him.” And she went away quietly wondering why grandfather couldn’t speak to him now. Why did she have to come back after 15 days? But she didn’t have the courage to ask grandfather so she quietly went away and came back after 15 days. And grandfather took this boy aside, spoke to him for less than a minute and this boy went home and gave up sweets. Wouldn’t touch sweets anymore. And so the parents came back to grandfather and said, “What kind of a miracle did you perform? We were trying to tell him the same thing and he wouldn’t listen to us. And yet you were able to speak with him for less than a minute and he obeys you instantly.” And grandfather said, “It wasn’t a miracle. The reason I asked you to come back after 15 days was I had to give up eating sweets for 15 days before I could ask him to. So all I told him was that I have given up sweets and I won’t eat sweets until you are allowed to eat sweets. So will you please give it up?” And that is what parents don’t do. We as parents want to use our authority and do what we want them to do, but we are not willing to do it with them and that doesn’t work. We have to live what we want our children to learn. It’s only when we do it through example that they will learn good things from us.

The second story is something that happened to me. It was when I was 16 years old. We were back in South Africa living in the ashram that grandfather had created 18 miles outside the city of Durban in the midst of sugar cane plantations. When we were growing up, my two sisters and I, we didn’t have anybody our age to play with and so we would look forward to going into town and visiting friends and seeing a movie or something. So every time we got an opportunity we would jump at it. And one Saturday my father had to go to town to attend a conference, and he didn’t feel like driving that day so he asked me if I would drive him into town and I jumped at the opportunity and said yes. And since I was going into town my mother gave me a list of groceries that she needed and on the way into town my father reminded me of all the little chores that had been pending for a long time like getting the car serviced and oil changed and all of these things. And he said, “Since you have the whole day to yourself please take care of all these things.” I said, “All right”. And when I dropped him off at the conference venue, he said, “At 5 o’clock in the evening I will wait for you outside this auditorium. Come here and pick me up and we will go home together.” And I said, “Fine.” And I rushed off and I did all my chores as quickly as possible.

And I left the car at the garage with instructions to do whatever was necessary and I went straight to the nearest movie theater. Being 16 years old and very interested in Hollywood Western movies, I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double feature that I didn’t realize the passage of time. The movie ended at 5:30 and I ran from there to the garage and got the car and rushed to where my father was waiting for me and it was almost 6:00 in the evening when I reached there. And naturally he was anxious and wondering what happened to me and he was pacing up and down. And so the first question he asked me is “Why are you late?” And instead of telling him the truth, I was so ashamed to tell him that I was sitting there watching a John Wayne movie that I lied to him and I said the car wasn’t ready, I had to wait for the car … not realizing that he had already called the garage and asked them.

When he caught me in the lie, he said, “There is something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn’t give you the confidence to tell me the truth, that you felt you had to lie to me. And I’m going to find out where I went wrong with you. And in order to do that I am going to walk home 18 miles. I’m not coming with you in the car.” There was absolutely nothing I could do to make him change his mind. He just started walking. It was after 6 o’clock in the evening. Much of those 18 miles were through sugar cane plantations, dirt roads, no lights, late in the night, and I couldn’t leave him and go away. So for 5 ½ hours I was crawling behind my father watching him go through that pain and agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. And I decided there and then that I was never going to lie again.

And I think about that incident very often and wonder what would my reaction be if my father had grounded me or punished me in some way as we do with our children when we catch them doing something wrong. Would I have learned the lesson he was trying to teach me or would I have just shrugged my shoulders, suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing over and over again. And I think that I would have gone on doing the same thing.

This is what happens all the time. We think that justice means punishment. That justice means an eye for an eye. We are constantly told about this in the media and everybody drums this into us all the time—that unless you’ve got somebody to pay for what has happened to you, you cannot be satisfied. That’s not justice. That is revenge. And revenge is not going to help anybody. If we need justice then we’ve got to think about reformation. We’ve got to recognize that the person who has done something wrong has done it out of ignorance or lack of understanding and that we need to help that person understand and educate that person and reform that person.

And I’m a big advocate of prisons being places of reformation rather than punishment. We are constantly told that we can build prisons and lock up people and throw the keys away. Here in California you have the law: three strikes and out, or two strikes and out, or whatever it is. But that’s not going to stop crime. That’s not going to help anybody with anything. Eventually we are going to reach a state where we will wonder how many prisons are we going to build and how many people are we going to lock up there. We are going to get to the root of the whole problem and the root of the problem is all of these things that we see in society all of the passive violence that we practice in society. All the disparities that generate out of that passive violence and as long as we have that kind of situation going on in our societies we are going to have more and more violence.

So I hope that I have been able to share with you some of the things that I learned from my grandparents and my parents, which will help you become the change that we all have to be to make this world a peaceful place. Thank you very much.

Prof. Nalini Rao: I would now like to introduce Dr. John Heffron for the question and answer session.

Heffron: Thank you. I know Mr. Gandhi started his day very early, but if you are willing to take a couple of questions.

Gandhi: Oh yes, more than a couple.

Question: I have a family that believes in a lot of control over a person and likes to put people down and they have hurt me deeply and I am through with them. But how do you work with this in your daily life? [Gandhi: How do you work with the anger?] Yeah, and the control issue and having been abused like that I notice I have a lot of anger issues over it.

Answer: Well I cannot answer that question until I know the full story behind it and all the issues involved, but for you I think what you need to do is to get over that situation from the past and try to get over the anger that you feel. And you’ve got to forgive them, the person or individual or whoever it is. You’ve got to think about your future, and not be connected with the past that you would like to forget. As long as you remain anchored to that past you are going to feel that pain and agony and the anger keeping on alive and boiling within. And eventually you will find that your life has been wasted and that nobody has benefited from this at all. So the quicker you can get released from that the better; let it be, let it go, forgive them, and think about your own future. The sooner you work toward a better future, the better it will be for you.

Question: You talked about channeling anger in a positive way. Could you give us some examples of how we can channel our anger in a positive way?

Answer: Well we have to first of all analyze and find out what caused the anger and then when we find out what it was that caused the anger then we have to work toward finding out how best we can solve this whole situation. And so that it is a win-win situation. If it is with another person then how best we can resolve it so that that other person is happy and you are happy. Or, if it is about an issue how best we can resolve this issue. These are things we have to work on and ask ourselves how we can best tackle this. Every incident of anger has a spark, something that sparks it. It doesn’t just come on its own, it has something that sparks it and that is what we need to find out. What it is that is igniting this anger and how best we can resolve it.

Question: Thank you so much. My name is Vincent Mapili. I’m from Zambia in Africa. My question is related to orphans and street kids, a situation that is very common in Africa. I’d like to find out related to what you say about the inner anger being a fuel for violence. In Africa, we have a number of children being left out as orphans due to AIDS and so forth. The children are deprived of education and many things they previously were used to having. Now, this I believe builds the anger inside and as a person grows it definitely leads to violence. My question is, what approach your organization is taking in relation to this problem that we have. Thank you.

Answer: Yes I do agree with you that this is a very painful problem, not only in Africa, but in many parts of the third world. It exists in India also. And when we were living in India we came across similar situations where young girls would go and get pregnant and they would then not want the baby because in India it is stigma for a woman to have a baby before marriage. So they would quietly go and discard the baby somewhere. We found many babies that were lying on the street or near garbage dumps or discarded somewhere, newborn babies. And what do you do with this? It’s a difficult problem. But my wife and I and my children, we all got involved in it and over the years from almost the mid-70s until the mid-80s we found homes for about 126 children and placed them in happy homes everywhere. It’s a drop in the ocean, but that’s what each individual can do.

If everybody gets involved somehow we can find a solution to this problem. I am an advocate of people in affluent countries reaching out and doing something for people in the poor countries. I don’t mean just in terms of giving some money and then forgetting about it, but really getting involved and finding a solution to the problem. We take students, well not really students, students, but every individual is a student. Anyone that wants to study nonviolence and it’s applications, we take them on a tour of Gandhi’s India. We go every December and travel until the middle of January for two to three weeks and we have seminars and workshops during that period. And last year we had a group and among them there were about 13 or 14 young women from Wellesley College and we went around and we go mostly to villages and small towns and so there are not many luxury hotels there. We have to live in modest accommodations and after about 8 or 9 days of the tour we came to the city of Bangavad, which is a fairly big city in western India and our tour agent was able to negotiate a good deal with a fairly good hotel, about a four-star hotel and when we were checking into this hotel these young women were so jubilant. Finally they were seeing something that they were accustomed to seeing at home: a nice clean hotel, with a nice clean bed, and a nice hot shower. And so they were expressing their joy even as we were checking in and talking about how they were going to have a hot bath and wash their hair and do this and do that. And then they went up to the room and they opened the window and looked out and there was all the poverty, the slums right there out of the window. And they felt guilty.

So they came to me and they said, “Mr. Gandhi we have to leave this hotel and go to some other place.” And I said, “Why?” They said, “Well we feel very guilty. We are living in all this luxury and there are people just outside the window. And we can’t stand this.” And I said, “This is a lesson for you. Here you have the same luxury that you are accustomed to in the United States, but because you have a window to the outside world, the third world, you don’t like what you see from that window so you are going to run away out of guilt, because where are you going to run? Because every place you go you will see this poverty. So running away is not the answer. The answer is to think about what is your responsibility. How can you bring about the change in the lives of people?”

And each one of us can change the lives of many people. We don’t need a whole big organization or thousands of people to do things. One person can begin and that can snowball and change the whole world there. We have had examples of this so many times in history. When even one person has acted and transformed the whole world. So we have to act. We have to get involved in finding solutions. Living in the US, we don’t have a window to the third world, so we can ignore what is happening in the third world and forget about it. But if all of us get involved in trying to find solutions to the problems that the gentlemen talked about in Africa and other parts of the third world, we would be able to improve their standard of living and there wouldn’t be all this conflict and tragedy there.

Question: I find this quite a problem with the parents of today. I see parents rude to their elderly parents in front of their children who are small. And when you try to explain to them that their children are going to do this when they grow up, they do not understand. What do you do about this problem?

Answer: Well it’s always a problem between generations that they don’t want to listen to each other. But again it a question of how you tell the person and how you want them to listen to you; if we keep nagging our children or using our authority and telling them to do this and do that. But if they see it in terms of our actions, then the likelihood of their learning and understanding would be much more.

Question (from a child): Well, sometimes I have these times when I have two choices and I pick one choice but I wonder if I picked the right choice, and if I’ll be happy with that choice and I kind of want to do the other one too.

Answer: This happens to all of us. All of us are never really satisfied with the choices we make and we want all the choices and all the benefits of all the choices. But at some stage we have to understand that we can’t do everything, we can’t have everything in life. There are some things that are beyond us and we’ve got to understand those limitations. And then when we make a choice we’ve got to also ask ourselves whether that choice is just going to make me happy or is it going to make everybody around me happy. If it’s a choice that we make just for ourselves, for our own selfish reasons and happiness knowing that all the other people around us will be unhappy with this then I would say that that’s a poor choice because our choices should not be selfishly motivated. Our choices should be motivated by a desire to bring happiness to all around us.

If it’s your family, then how does every member of the family benefit from the choice you are going to make and how will they feel about it. That should always be in the back of our mind. Because once we learn to do that with the family, then when we grow up we can do that with the community and the society. Today, unfortunately, we have all become very selfish and self-centered. We always think about ourselves, about how I can grab the biggest share of the pie for myself and forget about everybody else. And that is what creates a lot of strife and unhappiness among people. So if we learn not to be selfish and self-centered, but learn to build relationships on the four principles of respect, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation, and if we respect ourselves and respect each other and respect the family and respect the society and respect all of creation then we will understand who we are and what we are and why are we here on earth.

We are placed here on earth for a purpose. We are not just born by accident and come here. There’s a purpose in our existence and we’ve got to find out what that purpose is and fulfill that purpose. So it’s when we come to that understanding we will have the vision of looking at people as human beings and not by the labels we have to identify ourselves.

Today we have put so many labels on ourselves. We have religious labels, and economic labels, and gender labels, and color labels, and all kinds of labels, and we identify people by those labels. And every label we put on a person we are dividing that person and keeping them away from us. And every division that we have is a potential conflict. So we’ve go to remove those labels and start accepting people as human beings and treating each other as human beings. And when we learn to do that, then we will appreciate our own humanity. So choices that we are called upon to make every day in our lives, must be choices where the decisions should be where everybody who is around us or who is involved in it will benefit from it and be happy. Does that answer your question?

Comment from SUA Student: Hello. Good evening Mr. Gandhi. I don’t have a question. I do apologize. But I just have a comment. On behalf of SUA students, staff, faculty, and all the people present here in this society I just want to appreciate all the experience you gave and motivational words ‘cause you’re doing a great job. Please continue your work. Thank you.

Heffron: I don’t think anybody could say it better than that. Thank you, Mr. Gandhi.

Gandhi: Before we part I want to share with you a few last words from grandfather and these are words of wisdom that I found just a few weeks ago when I was pouring through grandfather’s writings and I brought them along to share them with you and I hope that they will help you benefit also.

He says:

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive because you words become your behavior.
Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.

Thank you.