Just because we aren’t involved in a war, doesn’t mean we aren’t involved in violence.

A living legacy of peace and humanity will continue to spread his global message Monday at Augustana College, Rock Island.

Augustana will launch its new Global Lecture Series with Arun Manilal Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, at a free lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 14, in Centennial Hall, 3703 7th Ave., Rock Island.

Arun Gandhi will share his grandfather’s message of the transformational power of channeling one’s anger into an agent for doing good. Gandhi is a socio-political activist, journalist, author, philanthropist and motivational speaker.

Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, will give a free lecture at Augustana College on Nov. 14, 2022.

Gandhi remembered his grandfather, and how he taught him about nonviolence, when he spoke with Local 4 News on Friday. His messages about non-violence are received differently by different listeners, he said.

“There have been different reactions in the sense that some people reject it all together,” he said. “The younger generation seems to be interested in finding out more about the alternatives to violence. There has been a great deal of ignorance about the philosophy.

“People seem to think that as long as we are not fighting and not at war with anybody, we are living in peace. I do not agree with that,” he said.

Gandhi says physical and passive violence both exist. Passive violence is discrimination, looking down on other people, or accepting poverty.

Mahatma Gandhi (file photo)

Retrieving a pencil: A lesson from his grandfather

“There are hundreds of things that have been so much a part of our life that we don’t realize it is hurting anybody,” Gandhi said. “This was a lesson that I learned from my grandfather. He made me go out and look for a little pencil that I had discarded on my way home from school. “ Mahatma Gandhi did not get a new pencil for his grandson, as Arun Gandhi had thought he would. “Instead, he made me go out and look for the pencil.”

The boy spent about two hours searching for it, and finally found it. That’s when his grandfather said: “Now I want you to sit here and learn two very important lessons. First, even in the making of a simple pencil, we use a lot of the world’s natural resources. We are throwing that away.

“Second, we can afford to buy all these things in bulk, and we over-consume. We deprive other people of them … that is violence again humanity,” Mahatma Gandhi told his grandson, who remembers it well.

Over-consumption is violence against humanity, Arun Gandhi said.

Recently, Arun Gandhi read a New York Times article that, in the United States, there is $160 billion worth of food that goes into the garbage every year.

“We could not only feed the world, we could also feed our own population better,” he said, and adds the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is growing everywhere.

1942: Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi is arrested in Bombay by British forces, launching the Quit India Movement, a civil disobedience movement seeking India’s immediate independence from Great Britain. Gandhi was held for two years in the Aga Khan Palace in Pune, India, before being released.

He says change starts with the self. “That’s what my grandfather always said. We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Instead of heaping food on a plate and throwing some away, take enough food to fill your stomach, he said. “When we do it ourselves, we teach our children to do the same thing.”

(Getty Images)

The problem with capitalism

Capitalism, he says, has led to greed. “We see today a handful of people making hundreds of billions of dollars.

“Greed is what is eating us up,” he said. “Now I’m beginning to feel that we deliberately want to keep people in poverty. The economy and the industrial structure we have created depends so much on cheap labor. We need cheap labor. Now that slavery has been abolished, we keep people in poverty so they have to abide by it.“

The pandemic upset everything, he said. “I thought perhaps it would be an eye opener and people would start reflecting on where we are going and what we are doing. Instead, they have been wanting the government to give us more and benefits. It is another greed.

“I think those who are at the bottom and being paid below minimum wage now want more money. Businesses, although they want to hire people, they don’t want to give more money because that eats into their profits.

“The capitalism we have today is more about making profits and less about people, ensuring people have a good life. All these corporations … look at what Elon Musk is doing with Twitter and the other social media laying off thousands of people just so they can show a better profit.“

The stock market, he said, has made more money available and pumped more money into industries. Then the industries no longer think about the people and the consumers.”They just think about the shareholders and how to satisfy the shareholders.”

“As long as the profits keep flowing in, people are dispensable. Profits are not.”

To be fair, he said, some U.S. industries practice compassionate capitalism. They take care of their workers and their consumers. A prime example is Chobani (its products include Greek yogurt,) which makes profits that are poured back to the workers. “People are really happy there,” he said.

What some other big corporations are doing is just plain greed, he said.

The big three

Politics, religion, and big money want to control the population. “They help each other in achieving that goal. We saw that in the present election …  $16 billion for midterm elections? What’s going to happen when we have the larger election? This is atrocious. We don’t even know where that $16 billion is coming from. It could be coming from another country.”

Teach your children … without violence

Gandhi has a problem with parenting methods. “We have created a whole culture of violence that has taken over so much of our life and our beliefs.

“We punish anybody who does something wrong. Our children, when they misbehave, we punish them. That idea of punishment seeps into the elders. We have the largest population of incarcerated people in the world. We are the most advanced country in the world, yet we have the largest population of incarcerated people.”

“It really shocks me how punishment is so cruel and so ingrained in the system,” he said. “You’re not satisfied with an eye for an eye. The media keeps talking about the crime increasing and how people need to be punished and more people need to be put into prisons. We have been doing this for generations, but we have not been able to control crime.”

The idea of good people and bad people comes from politicians, Gandhi maintains. “We have to recognize that each one of us has the capacity to do good or do bad depending on what buttons are pressed. We don’t look at what caused the person to do the wrong thing.

“We need to change our mindset from punishment to reformation,” he said. Prisons should make people aware of their mistakes, and “see how best we can help them rehabilitate themselves.

“Either way we are paying money. Why not pay and do something positive rather than pay and do something negative?”

To learn more about Arun Gandhi, his work and his philosophy, visit his website.

Augustana College is currently home to 349 international students from over 50 nations.

The Augustana Global Lecture Series

The Augustana Global Lecture Series, coinciding with International Education Week on Nov. 14-17, celebrates Augustana’s commitment to serving international students and preparing all students to make an impact in a global society, according to a college release.