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Some reflections on Arun Gandhi’s (grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) lecture at Ball State…

During the Q&A, one woman asked what it would look like to respond non-violently to terrorists on the other side of the world. Arun stated that physical violence is usually the frequently the result of anger which is a reaction to passive violence. If we want to end terrorism, we shouldn’t declare war on it and try to kill all of the terrorists, for we would only become terrorists ourselves and breed another generation devoted to our own destruction. Rather, we should examine the ways in which we have committed passive violence and seek reconciliation.

During the lecture, Arun also spoke out against assigning labels to others. Later, a black woman asked him to clarify what he meant. She said that she was proud of her heritage: proud to be black and proud to be a woman. “Is that wrong?” she asked.

At first I thought he was essentially advocating for “colorblindness” that we “shouldn’t see color.” The issue with this philosophy is that in assimilates rather than integrates. Refusing to acknowledge color is tantamount to attributing whiteness. This denies persons of color their identity and heritage.

Instead, Arun asserted that we should primarily try to recognize each other’s humanity. Through this recognition, we acknowledge the inherent value of those different than us. In recognizing this equality, we must also recognize the inequalities which our society has created because it has assigned values to our differences.

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