I remember there was a Law student that would constantly rile me out. Now it seems I can see him in a different light. Because once I understood Gandhi’s reasons, I understood why he’d inspire so much anger in me. He was everything I wasn’t. I’ve never met anyone who’s answered with such intelligence and kindness.
At the time I was teaching at London University, one day, at the cafeteria, he tried to sit next to me.
“Don’t you see that birds and pigs can’t eat together?” I said mercilessly just to get him to leave.
“Don’t worry, professor. I’ll just fly away,” he responded with a smile.
For a long time I regretted how I’d reacted. Now I know that I didn’t hurt Gandhi. I only caused harm upon myself. I was so infuriated that I decided to get revenge. But it was impossible to give him a bad grade because his answers were beyond perfect. My last chance came right before I handed him his graded exam back.
“Mr. Gandhi, if you’re walking down the street and see an abandoned package, containing one bag overflowing with wisdom and one full of money, which one would you take?” I asked.
“The one with money, of course,” he responded immediately.
“If I were you, I’d have taken the one brimming with wisdom. Don’t you think?” I bragged. His answer contained the exact words to drive me insane.
“We all take what we don’t have.” Upon hearing how nonchalant he fired back, I took my marker and wrote “IDIOT” on the first page of his test. It was clear that I’d disrespected my profession as an educator and that my rage had surpassed me. But I finally understood why Gandhi did what he did, and why it created this reaction in me, minutes after that awkward moment when the student came up to me.
“Professor, you signed my test but forgot to grade it.”
Mahatma Gandhi was the man that went against an army armed to the teeth. He chose to lead his people without ever asking them to take up arms, but instead required them to sew their own garments and produce salt from the sea. He became the first human to use nonviolence in war. For these reasons there are several wisdom-filled ideals attributed to him.
We can all learn from his philosophy to helps us “win” little battles or arguments with other people without resourcing to violence.
1. Don’t be selfish
Mahatma Gandhi cared about everyone, not just the people of India. After the war, he waged against the monopoly held by the British in the textile industry, and he was able to reclaim the Indian economy. Days later he showed up at each and every one of Manchester’s factories to apologize for causing the loss of jobs to hundreds of British citizens.
2. Have solid arguments
This man spent twenty one years learning about the South African civil rights movements, used all the academic knowledge he gained from London University, and spent a long time observing the needs of the Indian population. He did all this to gather the necessary information and perspectives to face any situation, such as war, with truthful and important arguments.
3. Master your physical strength
At the age of seventy seven, Gandhi could balance himself on wooden tree trunks floating in the water. Growing up in the nineteenth century the nationalist learned to heal his body through physical and mental training without having to recur to modern medicine. The thinker knew he needed to remain strong to stand amidst a violent and divided India.
4. Act patiently
For this wise man the end never justified the means, much less if that meant hurting anyone. In fact, his philosophy was based on building a wall brick by brick, caring for the details, and waiting for the right moment to place each one. This is how we should all act during a conflict; there’s no need to solve it all at once.
5. Defend your ideas with empathy
It can be complicated to spread word of an idea the whole planet seems to be against. But during his fight, Gandhi demonstrated that creating empathy among many is possible when starting with a good cause.
6. Understand other people’s feelings
Gandhi’s words were not only based on truth, but also on the feelings of others. This led to thousands supporting his cause for both his political ideas and the emotional aspect of his fight.
7. Keep your words simple
Simplicity is a pretty powerful thing when making a statement. The simple way through which Gandhi lead a transparent movement, holding no secrets nor using any ploys to bring forward his ideals, inspired great thinkers and creative minds like Steve Jobs.
8. Be self-sufficient
The current DIY mainstream culture was brought forth by Gandhi, who gave his people the idea to obtain their own salt, as well as make their own clothes and home goods, instead of paying unfair amounts for it. This created a dent in British Industry and made the powerful nation lose its hold on the revolution.
9. Respect the beliefs of others
This man acted with love and compassion regardless of people’s religion. Whether they were Muslim, Christian, or Atheists, he would treat them all the same. By respecting those with different faiths, philosophies, or perspectives, we will be able to comprehend their point of view and so find a way to win or mediate the situation in the best possible manner.
10. Never give up
After fifty five years of hard work, Gandhi fulfilled one of his missions, but the fight was far from over. After helping India gain its freedom, the philosopher continued to save people from the poorest neighborhoods. This teacher taught us that time doesn’t matter, but the way we fight for what we want. It’s about being constant as we face obstacles to reach our goals.
Mahatma Gandhi’s ability to become unpredictable turned him into a man that could unite the strength and hearts of hundreds to defend the same cause. This leader acted like no other in history. He proved that brutality can be answered with wisdom.
Translated by María Suárez