Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Worth Reading... Worth Sharing

In this electronic age, I receive a large number of forwarded mails every day, which is quite usual. Most of them are worth deleting (with or without reading!)  However, some of them are not only worth preserving; but much more than that, worth sharing. Here is one of such pieces, which I received just yesterday from my friend MS Krishnan:

A Recollection by Dr. Arun Gandhi

Dr. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and founder of the MK Gandhi Institute for Non-violence, has shared the following story as an example of non-violence parenting.

‘I was 16-years-old and living with my parents at the institute my grandfather had founded 18 miles outside of Durban, South Africa, in the middle of the sugar plantations. We were deep in the country and had no neighbors, so my two sisters and I would always look forward to going to town to visit friends or go to the movies.

One day my father asked me to drive him to town for an all-day conference, and I jumped at the chance. Since I was going to town, my mother gave me a list of groceries she needed and, since I had all day in town, my father asked me to take care of several pending chores, such as getting the car serviced. 

When I dropped my father off that morning, he said, “I will meet you here at 5.00pm and we will go home together”. After hurriedly completing my chores, I went straight to the nearest movie theatre. I got so engrossed in a John Wayne double-feature that I forgot the time. It was 5.30 before I remembered. By the time I ran to the garage and got the car and hurried to where my father was waiting for me, it was almost 6.00pm.

He anxiously asked me, “Why were you late?” I was so ashamed to tell him I was watching a John Wayne western movie that I said, “The car wasn’t ready, so I had to wait,” not realizing he had already called the garage. When he caught me in the lie he said, “There’s something wrong in the way I brought you up that didn’t give you the confidence to tell me the truth. In order to figure out where I went wrong with you, I’m going to walk home 18 miles and think about it.”

So dressed in his suit and dress shoes, he began to walk home in the dark on mostly unpaved, unlit roads. I couldn’t leave him, so for five and a half hours I drove behind him, watching my father go through agony for a stupid lie that I uttered. 

I decided then and there that I was never going to lie again. 

I often think about that episode and wonder, if he had punished me the way we punish our children, whether I would have learned a lesson at all. I don’t think so. 

I would have suffered the punishment and gone on doing the same thing. But this single nonviolent action was so powerful that it is still as if it happened yesterday. That is the power of non-violence


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