Today, October 2nd, is Gandhi’s birthday.
In honor of Gandhi, October 2nd is the International Day of Nonviolence!
You may be wondering, “Why do we need an International Day of Nonviolence? Wasn’t the International Day of Peace like less than two weeks ago?”
It’s a good question. And I’m glad you hypothetically asked it.
We need both because we need to be able to see the big and small picture. The International Day of Peace is a great day to come together and join in collective prayer and work with shared dreams of a world where there is no fighting between tribes and nations. It’s an important reminder that, especially in our globalized, interconnected world, it is very much our business what happens to our neighbors in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Nigeria, and across the world.
The International Day of Nonviolence is a reminder that it has to start with us. Gandhi did amazing things, and his work continues to effect billions of people, but it all started with him. You might think that Gandhi was born a humble peacemaker, unifying the people of India and marching to sea since the moment he could walk and talk. This isn’t the case. Gandhi was born and raised in privilege, and for the first twenty years of his life, he didn’t question the organization of Indian society very much. It wasn’t until Gandhi spent time as a lawyer in South Africa, where he witnessed and experienced various expressions of prejudice that he began to question his own place of privilege and who might be negatively effected by his own high status.
It wasn’t until Gandhi experienced the disadvantage of prejudice that he began to address his own prejudice and the systemic prejudices that advantaged him.
Gandhi went on to touch millions of people in his life of work, but it all started with him changing himself. His change effected a nation, but it was very personal. You and I will probably never touch millions of people with our expressions of nonviolence, but we can learn from Gandhi’s life that changing millions of people isn’t the goal. The goal is changing ourselves. And whether an entire nation is watching, or just our friends and family, changing ourselves begins to change others as well.
So today, in honor of Gandhi’s birthday, think of how you can change yourself to be less violent in your personal interactions. This may mean physical violence. No more driving aggressively, solving problems with use or threats of force, or beating up your brother (sorry Ethan).
It may also mean no more emotional violence. No more using cruel words or hurtful humor. No more saying you hate your enemies, and speaking to them in that way.
Or, it could be spiritual violence. No more using your religious beliefs or the bible as a weapon against those who don’t believe the same thing as you. Evangelize through Christ-shaped love. Make disciples by being disciples.
Solve problems with creativity and meekness. Answer hate with love. Answer violence with nonviolence.
Whatever you do, use October 2nd as a day to change yourself to be less violent, and as always, remember to continue that change on Oct 3rd and beyond.
Happy International Day of Nonviolence, everybody! Happy birthday, Gandhi!
Think Big. Be Small.
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