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Arun Gandhi urges peacemaking at MHCC

Mahatma Gandhi's grandson discusses his famous grandfather and nonviolence


Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: BRUCE BATTLE - Hundreds of people gather to hear Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, speak at Mt. Hood Community College.Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, urged an audience at Mt. Hood Community College to take up non-violence and peacemaking to make the world a better place.

“Non-violence is not just a strategy for conflict resolution, but it is a way of life,” the 81 year-old activist said Thursday night. “It is important to understand the depths of this philosophy.”

Gandhi's hour-long lecture was punctuated with stories of growing up with the legendary Mahatma as his grandfather.

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: BRUCE BATTLE - Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, right, visits with Debra Derr, president of Mt. Hood Community College, center, on Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Gresham campus.Gandhi was born in Durban, South Africa, in 1934 and living under apartheid was beaten up for being too white, but also beaten for being too black, he said.

His parents took him to India to live with his grandfather in 1946.

“I was filled with rage,” he admitted.

He saw first-hand his grandfather's non-violent crusade for political and social change.

The peace activist, author and lecturer went back to South Africa and then returned to India as a young man and worked as a journalist.

Despite a desire to return to South Africa, government would not let his wife move with him.

“I was very angry with the South African government,” he said. By chance he ran into a pro-apartheid politician while traveling by boat.

Photo Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: BRUCE BATTLE - Arun Gandhi speaks Thursday, Jan. 22, at Mt. Hood Community College.The politician asked Gandhi to show him the sights.

“I wanted to tell him to go jump in the ocean,” he admitted. But instead Gandhi and his wife spent several days doing “all the touristy things.” The four talked about apartheid and justice.

On the last day, we all embraced, we cried and they asked us for forgiveness. They promised they would go back to South Africa and fight apartheid.

Gandhi said the man did fight apartheid, but at great personal cost. He lost his election and was thrown out of his party.

“You can make a change in people though love and respect and understanding,” Gandhi said.

Asked about how a person can get past the anger when someone “does you wrong.” Gandhi said, “it is something we have to work on all the time.”

Each one of us is capable of doing good things and bad things, depending on which buttons are pushed, he said.

"Grandfather told me that you must consider yourself to be a peace farmer," he said. “I hope to plant seeds of peace and I'll end up with a good crop of peacemakers.

"I've done my duty," he said to the audience, “it is now your duty.”

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