Gandhi behind the headlines

We are never powerless when we fight with the spirit and not the body.

An assassin’s bullet cut down Mohandas Gandhi 58 years ago today. The man, who led millions of the powerless to realize they had spiritual power, died calling out to God.

Where are we today in the 21st century? Bullets still kill, and disagreements are settled with a brutish display of power. Wars still are fought with explosions and the innocent are caught in the crossfire. When will humankind get beyond the idea that death, arguably the ultimate negative, is the only term in which to settle a disagreement or feed into a lust developed through fear?

The idea that battles can be fought and won on the spiritual level was not Gandhi’s own, but was one that he practiced. Gandhi’s spirit is still alive today, but one will have to look deep into international headlines to find it.

Peasants in Mexico march with machetes, the sign of their labor, and advocate for land reform. Detainees in Guantanamo Bay, stripped of their rights and abused by the U.S. government, are still on a hunger strike. Peasants and natives in South America are fighting oil pipelines that threaten their livelihood and destroy the Amazon they hold sacred. Villages in India fought the Coca-Cola Co. In the United States, Cindy Sheehan continues to fight the Iraq war and the Bush administration with the spirit of her son Casey.

Sadly, we are taught that movements are about nothing more than money or power when, at their base, there must be a spiritual incentive. There must be a level at which the belief in human dignity is greater than the desire for political or monetary wealth. We have been tricked into believing Henry David Thoreau was a wild man on a pond and Cesar Chavez never existed.

Politicians have an easy excuse in that they are getting more done working the political machines than they would get done if they joined protestors or started fasting. Such excuses are easily dismissed when it seems nothing is really being done for the causes they claim they are working for.

We must remember that for causes we truly believe in, we are never powerless when we fight with the spirit and not the body.