Chances are you are familiar with story of Mahatma Gandhi. Chances are you know he adopted passive resistance as strategy in the fight for freedoms in India, got people of India to buy into his strategy.
But how exactly was Gandhi able to get Indians to buy into his strategy? Quite simple really.
Mahatma Gandhi allowed himself as little of luxuries as the average Indian. Appeared no different from the average Indian in his lifestyle.
If Mahatma Gandhi had lived the sort of life typical of a man with his level of education, the average Indian would have found it difficult to relate to him. Armed with a law degree from England, Gandhi could have lived quite luxuriously in the India of his day.
With a luxurious lifestyle in tow, Gandhi could have espoused exact same strategy of passive resistance in the fight for independence and his words would have fallen on deaf ears. It was not so much Gandhi’s strategy of passive philosophical resistance that won the day, though wisdom of the strategy helped. Rather, it was his willingness and capacity for living the sort of barebones lifestyle characteristic of the average Indian of his time.
Gandhi’s lifestyle did more to win the average Indian than his philosophy. His capacity for and willingness to identify with the average Indian was more important than his philosophy.
But then again, philosophically speaking, Gandhi was a minimalist. Whereas then the average uneducated Indian saw deprivation and identification with his situation, identification with his lifestyle, Gandhi merely was living the life he sought to live — a minimalist life filled with as few luxuries as possible.
In the misconception of his minimalist philosophy as identification, as abdication of educational attainments, Gandhi went one up on the average Indian, positioned himself for success at winning freedoms for the average Indian.
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Prior to his assassination, African Americans already were beginning to consider him too soft, saw him as too friendly with the white man. Friendships or interactions that ought to be have been regarded as evidence of success at winning freedoms for African Americans became Achilles heel that ensured MLK’s abandonment to the bullet of an assassin.
Check out pictures of marches by African Americans for their freedoms. The white faces are not many, but they are locked in arms and in step with African Americans. Should not the leader of African Americans seek friendship with such willing white men and women?
When you become friendly with your seeming adversary and are almost rejected by your constituency, you become vulnerable to your real adversaries.
The contrast between MLK and Gandhi? Absence of militancy, rhetoric, and bluster in strategy adopted by Martin Luther King Jr. was appropriate to objectives being pursued. Regardless, the average African American saw absence of militancy, rhetoric, and bluster as weakness, lack of boldness. Add to this the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. loved the finer things of life, stuff that perhaps was unaffordable to the average African American, and MLK was losing the average African American faster than Indians had lapped up Gandhi as father figure.
If you doubt success of Martin Luther King Jr. and absence of much success since his assassination, ask yourself this one question,
Just how many additional real freedoms have accrued to African Americans since MLK’s assassination?
The sad travesty of human existence in context of fights for freedom or independence?
The vast majority of the human race appreciates identification more than effectiveness and genuineness.
By the way, guess what happened to Mahatma Gandhi just as soon as people who did not have the same lifestyle were appointed leaders of the newly independent India?
Well with his lifestyle no longer needed for galvanizing of anyone, Gandhi was expendable. Not only was Gandhi’s lifestyle no longer needed for galvanizing people, given he could side with the people against the new government as necessary, he could become a hindrance to any necessary exploitation of the people. After all, when a ship capsizes only the person who himself or herself retains capacity for swimming can save others. Only politicians who first take care of themselves truly can serve the people.
It is true Gandhi was assassinated by those who seemingly did not want dialogue with Pakistan. But that would be Hindus, his very own people. The same people for whom he had won a hard fought fight for independence. The truth is Gandhi had to have been somewhat abandoned in some political sense for anyone to be willing to assassinate him.
Anyway, just as soon as his lifestyle no longer mattered, this because independence already was won, Gandhi was assassinated.
Will it ever be the case that revolutionaries are appreciated for their effectiveness and genuineness, as opposed to their identification?
It took about 33 years for appreciation due MLK to arrive at national limelight in the USA. One wonders which ought to be more overwhelming, the rightness of the action, or the length of time it took for the recognition to arrive?
Mahatma Gandhi? His adopted daughter-in-law, and her son both got assassinated in office. Leaders of countries are assassinated whenever some group wants them out of office, but cannot come up with a legitimate reason, cannot convince the people to vote them out of office. Following in footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi chose not to operate a divisive politics, retained Sikh Guards during a time that was characterized by religious conflicts between Hindus and Sikhs. Those Sikh Guards would go on to be agents of her assassination.
Post identification and achievement of independence in India, does it appear as if Mahatma Gandhi, and his legacy of peaceful coexistence really have been appreciated?