While love is, in itself, a kind of freedom, what does a love of a nation or a larger social order look like when there is no love between those living in it? Gandhi was so concerned with this dilemma that in 1924 he told readers of his Young India to redirect their focus inward. A change of heart, he said, is desired from the British, certainly, and he noted that such a change “has still to come,” but there should be a definite change of heart in the meantime between Hindus and Muslims. More than simply being willing, Gandhi said, they have to be “brave” enough to love each other, suggesting that violence between them could be overcome if they could only overcome their own fears and insecurities. He goes on, in a similar vein, that “to tolerate one another’s religion, even its prejudices and superstitions, and to trust one another. . . requires a faith in oneself.”
Today, Gandhi’s lessons can be applied to any two (or more) parties in conflict who have a similar, larger goal. Take climate change, for example. It affects everyone; but how can we confront it collectively and effectively without confronting our sense of alienation from one another?
I suppose a change of heart is not a one-time event. We should be brave enough to see it as a daily practice, an ever-renewed commitment.
Do one thing today to express that a change of heart is taking place in you, where before there was a sense of separation and alienation.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org