How many of us really observe ahimsa?

Oct 01, 2018, 06:59 IST | mid-day online desk

There are different organisations all making statements about peace, compassion, non-violence, and how we should apply Gandhian ethos to contemporary living

How many of us really observe ahimsa?

On Saturday, this paper carried a report about US police officials on a visit to Mumbai's Mani Bhavan to learn and imbibe Gandhian thought, philosophy and vision. The calendar is filled with events planned for tomorrow, which marks Gandhi Jayanti.

There are different organisations all making statements about peace, compassion, non-violence, and how we should apply Gandhian ethos to contemporary living. From walks to talks, the events are centred around the Mani Bhavan at Laburnum Road and Gandhi Book Centre at Nana Chowk.

While ahimsa is certainly a laudable aim, especially since we are seeing the crest of a violent wave in most cities, we tend to focus on crimes and ignore how violence now pervades our day-to-day life. Violence is not just the murders, robberies, sexual assaults, and terror attacks that we read about and see in the news every day. It is also about pushing someone to get ahead of the line. It is about cutting lanes to get ahead of another vehicle in a traffic snarl.

It is about the verbal abuse we heap on others, dismissing the huge psychological damage our words cause. It is about the cusswords we spew at a person of authority, like a traffic cop. Violence is in road rage, and even in bullying and ridiculing a vulnerable person.

The anonymity of the Internet is also fertile ground for violence. Words can wound us, as can threats of physical violence, name-calling, mud-slinging and smear campaigns. All of these fall within the ambit of violence.

To practise ahimsa, we need to look at violence in daily life, at these acts which are dismissed or diminished by those who practise them. Weave ahimsa into the fabric of your everyday life. That is giving real meaning to Gandhian thought and philosophy.

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