In response to the tragic death of 14-year old Dajae Coleman, Evanston Mayor Liz Tisdahl is convening a “STOP THE VIOLENCE” community meeting on October 2, which happens to be the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, one of the world’s great nonviolent leaders. While probably no more than a coincidence, the auspicious timing of Evanston’s response will hopefully lead to some answers.
Why do so many young people lash out at the slightest challenge? Why do they insist on agreement as a sign of respect? How have we twisted the concept of respect it into a justification for violence?
Gandhi built his nonviolent freedom movement on the ancient Indian notion of ahisma, which translates into English as “nonviolence.” But ahimsa means more than an absence of violence; it means respect for the feelings and sensitivities of ALL living things. (Some extreme practitioners refuse to walk outside after dark to avoid stepping on night crawlers.)
Of course there are limits and even Indian philosophers preach standing your ground against attackers, but our primary human obligation is to understand our place in the natural world, especially in relation to others. Harming another, as most adults know, is inflicting harm on oneself. Even when we don’t know it, we feel it. It’s called guilt.
Following Gandhi’s example, let’s teach our children that respect is a two-way street not a one-way alley. It starts with self and when extended to other others, it comes back in spades. Let’s also teach them to consider the source of criticism. Do you respect the person who is criticizing you? If not, why bother over what they say? If so, then listen. It could be helpful.
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Please see the other parts of our website to learn more about Gandhi, his life, philosophy and nonviolent freedom movement. By clicking on Gandhi’s photo, you will find lessons especially designed for grade school children. You can also read about other great nonviolent leaders including Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Aung San Suu Kyi, and the little known, but influential “Frontier Gandhi.”
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AIS is looking for volunteers, especially those with teaching experience, to help develop on-line lessons based on the lives, principles and accomplishments of the nonviolent leaders mentioned above.
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AIS is currently working with WorldOp Studios to produce nonviolent video games inspired by ancient Indian civilization. Interested investors can leave a message on this Facebook page or contact Steve Lome at WorldOp2020.com or 773/550-3000 for a copy of the business plan.
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In pursuit of a more peaceful world, AIS has launched a nonviolence pilot program in the City of Evanston with the blessing of current Mayor Tisdahl, former Mayor Lytle, Chief of Police Eddington, other community leaders and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.