SwarajEssays, Social Justice — By Danielle Harris on May 2, 2012 at 7:20 am
I’m reading a biography loaned to me about Gandhi and Churchill.
I’ve always admired Churchill. I hadn’t really looked at his politics — I just admired his wit.
Many of you have probably heard of his pithy replies.
Lady Astor: Winston, if you were my husband, I should flavor your coffee with poison.
Churchill: Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it.
Bessie Braddock, M.P.: Winston, you’re drunk!
Churchill: Bessie, you’re ugly, And tomorrow morning I shall be sober.
But when it came to politics and the examining of the two legendary characters, I found myself lining up beside Gandhi, instead of Churchill.
I loved his ideas about swaraj or home-rule. At first, I understood home rule to be the people of India governing themselves. And, it is, in fact, the truth, but not in the way I thought. He was very interested in a political change, but only through individuals undergoing a spiritual transformation. He felt that an exchange of British domination for Indian domination would not solve anything. The word home-rule gives off the mistaken assumption of a political solution rather than a true spiritual transformation.
A better description would be self-governance or self-rule.
Gandhi felt that in order for his people to be truly free from foreign domination, they must govern themselves as individuals. In other words, the Indian people needed freedom from their sinful nature. Gandhi hoped that a people’s movement would discard British political, economic, bureaucratic, legal, military, and educational institutions and embrace a transformation of the soul which would lead to salvation and service to others.
Christ-like, I say. True change, instead of surface change.
We are in an increasing politically-charged landscape where everyone shouts louder to be heard. And many religious people line up on a certain side. Yet, the solution is not found by siding with either side. Everyone is busy nit-picking the speck out of his neighbor’s eye while ignoring the log in his own.
I did not know how to articulate that political solutions are relative and thin and ever-changing, until Gandhi expressed it for me. People must learn to rule themselves before discovering a political solution.
The source is this: people do not love their neighbors as themselves.
There is only one way to truly do this — by following the first and greatest commandment: to love God with all your being.
Some believe they love the poor if they vote for the right candidate. But they do not. They want a political solution rather than a personal one. If you love the poor, go help them. Live among them. From the ghettos and the tenements you might be able to arrange a political solution.
Some believe they respect the poor by leaving them alone. But they do not. They will use any legal means to advance themselves, rather than willingly giving from their own wealth.
We used to have a wonderful Jack-Russell named Papillon and a very naughty Jack Russell named Henri. On a leash, Henri yanked in every direction. If you removed the leash, he ran off. Hence, his freedom was reduced to the leash.
But Papi did not require a leash. If we removed the leash and told him to ‘heel,’ he wouldn’t leave our side. Thus, whenever there were open fields, he could run with all his might and we knew he would return.
I think God wants us to heel so we can be free.
We want a leash. Tell us the rules. Give us the laws. We don’t want to get personal – listening to God. Let us yank on the slack, thinking we’re free within the yardage of rope.
We don’t want to listen. We don’t want to submit. We don’t want to follow.
Our freedom will continually be reduced to the length of our laws, which will become increasingly stricter. It is the pattern of history – the pride before the fall, the decadent glory and grand topple of civilizations, the insidious crumble of decay of a licentious culture.
We don’t even recognize that it is a prison to not be able to “self-rule.” We don’t notice we are slaves to our rampant wills or our deaf ears or our blind eyes.
God, grant me swaraj.