Wingate Welcomes Arun Gandhi, Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi

Students listen and engage at Lyceum with Gandhi’s Grandson. Students gain valuable lifelong lessons. 

Rachael Robinson, Staff Writer

Wingate University welcomed Arun Gandhi, the grandson of nonviolent philosopher and Indian civil rights leader, Mahatma Gandhi, to the McGee Theater on Tuesday night. Arun spoke to what Molly Hutson, a sophomore, described as “one of the quietest, most captivated audiences for a Lyceum” she has seen.

Arun spoke of lessons he learned from his grandfather. His message was clear as he spoke to a packed house: we can find peace without violence, but first we must learn how to control our anger.

Arun Gandhi, spent two years of his life learning, not only how to control his anger from his Grandfather, but how to understand it. “Anger can be like electricity: It’s just as useful and it’s just as powerful, but only when we use it intelligently and effectively. Otherwise, it could be deadly” Arun stated.

This quote spoke to two Wingate University students, Rodney Gillis and CJ James, both academic seniors on campus. James wrote “It was interesting to hear the way that Gandhi explained anger as electricity, and that we can use that energy to either destroy or create.”

Gandhi spoke of research done by Harvard University, which found that “85% of the violence that we experience comes from anger.” He recalled an assignment given to him from his grandfather; drawing violence as if it were a family tree.

He began with Physical and Passive violence. Listing the branches from physical violence wasn’t difficult, but the passive violence he realized was a very different story. He recalled passive violence took over his wall while physical violence was only a tiny branch.

Gandhi explains this difference by saying “All the things we do everyday, consciously and unconsciously, cause us to do harm against the world and its people.” Gandhi sees passive violence as a gateway to physical violence. He notes that the connection between the two is anger. “Passive violence leads to anger in the victim, which then leads to physical violence as a result.”

One of the biggest acts of passive violence that Arun Gandhi could describe was tolerance. Tolerance according to Webster’s Dictionary is “fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one’s own.”

“Tolerance is not respect” Gandhi told the audience. CJ James points out that he was surprised to hear Gandhi distinguish that he does not advocate tolerance. “If we are tolerating people then we still harbor bad feelings towards them, we just don’t act on them,” James agrees “He advocates a change of heart where we are able to see all people the same and not judge them in that way. “

Gandhi also took time to point out the wasted opportunity that he saw on college campuses across the country. “College campuses are the microcosms of the world. All the races come together to live for at least 4 years. And we spend more time learning from textbooks than from each other.  By focusing more on textbook learning college students miss out on once in a lifetime opportunities that are right outside their doors.

So in a world where passive violence is constant, how do we control our anger? Arun Gandhi’s answer? Find a solution. One way he suggested to try to find a solution, was to keep an anger journal, but Gandhi’s anger journal was different. Instead of an individual simply describing the situation that had led to the anger, Gandhi encouraged them to explain how to handle it in a healthy way, to find a solution.

Strengthening your mind is also a key part of controlling you anger. Gandhi recalled an exercise his grandfather had him do everyday. Arun had to find a quiet room and sit holding an object. After studying the object for one minute he was to close his eyes and see how long he could hold the image. The longer you can see the image after closing your eyes, the more focus you have and the greater control you have over your mind.

Arun Gandhi sees how one man can make a difference. He had learned from his grandfather that the meaning of peace was simple, “If someone finds peace and locks it in their heart, it will perish with them, but if the spread the word its meaning will spread.”

Lauren Mason, a Sophomore, describes her feelings on this idea, “the wheat in the box was an awesome idea. The wheat represented happiness and it will die alone if you keep it in the box, but if you plant it, the wheat will grow and spread into a field of wheat, like how one can spread happiness.” Arun says for one man to be successful in creating a change in the world, he must not be focused on the result.

Wingate University students could recognize the importance of the Lyceum that they were attending. Gandhi’s message was met with a positive response from many students.

Rodney Gillis thought “It was amazing to hear from the grandson of Gandhi and to listen to what he had to say about his reflections of his grandfather.”

“I appreciated the fact that Gandhi recognize the simple observation that in order to accomplish peace you had to look for it, you have to make it a part of your culture, I find this to be a beautiful insight in a world to which everyone is looking for someone’s fault”, Trevor McKenzie, a senior, said about Gandhi’s message.

Kori Burgess found inspiration from Gandhi’s message, “I think we can all learn to let go of the past and the things that anger us and instead to move on, move forward, and strengthen our society through peace, respect, and understanding.”

Edited by: Sara Gunter

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