Thursday, 10 November 2016

part-wishing rulers I don't like dead and pacifism

I have been cheered up—while thinking about Donald Trump, Hitler and Bonhoeffer—by an article from this year's Reith lecturer, Kwame Anthony Appiah on 'Western Civilisation', reminding me about an exchange between a reporter and Gandhi:

Reporter: 'Mr. Gandhi, what do you think of Western Civilisation?'
Mr. Gandhi: 'I think it would be a good idea!'

The blog where I found commentary on this dialogue also quotes Gandhi's further critique of what in the modern period was classed as 'civilisation':
"I wholeheartedly detest this mad desire to destroy distance and time, to increase animal appetites, and go to the ends of the earth in search of their satisfaction. If modern civilization stands for all this, and I have understood it to do so, I call it satanic."
"India’s destiny lies not along the bloody way of the West, of which she shows signs of tiredness, but along the bloodless way of peace that comes from a simple and godly life. India is in danger of losing her soul. She cannot lose it and live. She must not therefore lazily and helplessly say, ‘I cannot escape the onrush from the West.’ She must be strong enough to resist it for her own sake and that of the world. European civilization is no doubt suited for the Europeans, but it will mean ruin for India, if we endeavor to copy it."

I am glad of this path of inspiration towards non-violent—and that also means wholly peaceful—resistance.

Yesterday I found myself part-wishing rulers I don't like dead and I wanted to connect to pacifist principles that have a higher aim than that.