One day I received an email with a very generous offer: Would the Metta Center like to acquire my father’s Gandhi collection? This man’s father happened to be the author of Gandhi Arrives in South Africa, Burnett Britton. Britton, a lawyer by education, wrote the book over a period of close to thirty years in his free time from working with the US government. We gladly accepted the offer, and drove over to San Francisco pick up the books: boxes upon boxes of wonderful Gandhi tomes for which we have since inaugurated shelves in our small library in our cozy Petaluma office. Now, of course we inquired whether we could meet Mr. Britton to thank him in person–and return to him a letter from Martin Luther King, Jr. I found tucked inside one of the books– and this meeting was soon arranged. Ever since, “Burnie” as we call him, has been a very dear friend. He is in his 90s, tall, with a twinkling smile and supportive and generous spirit.
One day over lunch I asked him, he was alive in Gandhi’s time, what it was that drew him to, fascinated him about Gandhiji. He told me that he remembered listening to the radio with his parents and hearing Gandhi’s words when he was young. The deep impression that was left on him for the rest of his life was that Gandhi was an honest person. Such courageous honesty struck a chord deep inside of him, as it did for countless millions across the planet. Honesty. It seems almost too simple, like I was expecting something greater, but what is greater than Truth for Gandhi? Of course it would affect others. . . This honesty is part of what Gandhi himself called “openness of mind.” Like many qualities the Mahatma developed to a “Himalayan” extent, it is something we can all cultivate.
Reflect on what it is about Gandhi that you admire the most. How can you incorporate more of this quality into your life?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org