Gandhi by no means thought that he would be the end-game of nonviolence. He was a prophet, but in no way the last one. To make that claim would require a refusal to understand the nature of reality and its evolution. But he did acknowledge that he, for some reason, had a role to play on the world stage — as did India. He knew he was in the spotlight, and strove to understand it: Why, he wondered, would he of all imperfect people, be given this role in our human family, to live out the great experiments of nonviolence as a kind of spokesperson and leader to millions of people? It’s a position that you and I can hardly fathom, so we might as well admire the humility he expresses when even asking himself this question: “why me, as imperfect as I am?” The only response he could think of was that if a perfect person were in his role, he would not have been taken seriously, but sent instead to a cave in the Himalayas. He felt that perhaps this role had come to him precisely because he was imperfect. Remember that all-important statement of his, “I have not the shadow of a doubt that any man or woman can achieve what I have, if he or she would make the same effort and cultivate the same hope and faith.” There you have it — the inner and outer work of nonviolence, open to all.
No doubt some people wanted him to be perfect, precisely to dodge the challenge, the relevance to our own imperfect lives. “Maybe, some of you may be that perfect teacher who is to come.” I think he was really saying, “I’m human, too. And being human is challenging.”
Do you expect people (or yourself) to be perfect? How do you handle this nonviolently?
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org