• Tag Archives Ghandi
  • The Moral Arc

    Beltane                                                                    Early Growth Moon

    Gay marriage.  Yes.  That the vote to pass this measure in Minnesota might come two days after mother’s day.  Priceless.

    In the long, long exile of a left perspective from the American political scene, beginning somewhere around Nixon and only now gradually beginning to lift and even now sporadically and with drone inflected interludes of neo-con thinking, it was Martin Luther King’s prescient rhetorical flourish that sustained me:  “The moral arc of the universe may be long, but it bends toward justice.”

    And, I mean that.  When Reagan busted the air traffic controllers union, when he cut welfare programs and raised defense spending, when Bush I was elected and couldn’t recall what a grocery store scanner was for, when Clinton continued the dismantling of our welfare system and most dismally of all, when Bush II was elected by the Supreme Court, then reelected even after his fatal rhetorical flourishes, Axis of Evil and Mission Accomplished, even then I knew that history opens toward freedom and the breaking of tradition-forged chains and when that freedom comes and the chain’s links lie broken in the street, time does not revert.

    Now, marriage will become, here in Minnesota at least, an expression of love between two people willing to commit to each other in a long-term, legally binding relationship.  There is not now and there never has been any problem with that.  But often the obvious and political reality don’t match.  Ask the atmosphere.  Rending the disjunction between justice and social reality was the focus of King’s life, Ghandi’s too; it is our focus as well, those who would end economic discrimination, further women’s full integration into life at all levels and make the world’s borders as open as possible.


  • Organize

    Lughnasa                                                                      New Harvest Moon

    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

    OK.  Heresy moment.  Being the change you want to see in the world will not change the world.  Paraphrasing Patton’s famous quote:  You don’t change the world by changing yourself, you change the world by getting other poor bastards to change it.  Change is a political as well as a personal process and for any personal change to become larger than one person, you have to engage others.

    Additionally, even if you change yourself, the world will not change along with you.  Here’s an example.  Let’s say you desire a greener world.  In order to achieve a greener world you decide to drive a Prius or a Volt, compost your household organic waste, put solar panels on your roof next to the wind turbine and grow your own vegetables.  Maybe even throw in chickens and bees to round things out.  You’ve changed yourself.

    Is that a bad thing?  Of course not.  Did it contribute to a greener planet?  Yes, but in a very, very small way.  Are you setting a good example for others?  Yes.

    Do people follow good examples?  Not so much.  People follow marketing, neighbor’s status symbols and their own values.  If others don’t voluntarily buy a Volt, compost, create renewable energy and grow their own vegetables, how will we get to a greener world?

    By government incentives on solar panels and wind turbines.  Feed in tariffs.  A city or county owned compost pile available to residents.  A government that creates more public transit and fewer roads.  National standards for mpg.  A carbon tax.  Any of several wedges that can create enough change to ratchet down the pace of climate change.

    How do we get these things to happen?  How do we get these changes to happen in the world?  Not by changing ourselves (though it won’t hurt), but by becoming strong enough politically to change how government and corporations treat carbon emissions.

    Even though Ghandi become the change he wanted to see in the world, he also organized and led a large non-violent resistance movement against the might of the British Empire.  It was the British Empire that changed.  And not because Ghandi changed himself, but because thousands came along with him in a political movement.

    To make the change you want to see in the world, organize.

  • After the Wind, After the Earthquake, After the Fire

    77  bar steady 29.75  5mph E  dew-point 49  Summer, breezy and pleasant

    Waxing Gibbous Thunder Moon

    “The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within me.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

    “And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the
    rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake,
    but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the
    fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” 1 KINGS 19:11-12

    After this wonderful passage, Elijah descends to the valley floor from his mountain cave and passes on the mantle of prophecy to his successor, Elisha.  God loves Elijah, but could not countenance his suspicion of the chosen people, so He calls Elijah up into heaven in a whirlwind, forcing him to give up his role on earth.

    Elijah is an incredibly important figure in Judaism.  At the Seder a  cup is set for him at the table, in anticipation of his coming to announce the messiah.  During the bris the patron (me in Gabe’s case) sits in the Elijah seat while the mohel performs the circumcision.  When asked about the Elijah seat, Jay Federer, rabbi and jeweler and mohel, told me this story.  “It is in the Talmud that Elijah, for doubting the chosen people’s willingness to keep the covenant, is required by G-d to witness all the instances in which the people maintain the covenant.”  The seder and the bris are two important moments. “This can be seen,” Jay said, “As a blessing or a curse.”