Gitmo or Gandhi?

I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent. –Mahatma Gandhi

The prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, built on a legacy of fear, was established to deal with violent terrorists, but instead became the cause of further suffering and chaos. It is a prime example of the mindless, cruel and inhuman way we abuse our fellow human beings. For, despite whatever these men may or may not have done, they are human beings and inflicting pain, especially the methods used at Gitmo, achieves nothing but further pain. Two wrongs do not make a right; to meet violence with more violence does not bring peace. Closing Gitmo does not say we condone violence, but that we do not intend to continue to act in such a barbaric way.

Of course, there are those who oppose closing the camp. Fear is a powerful seductress waiting around every corner to grab our attention; hatred is like a snake always ready to bite. The nature of fear is to hold us back, to keep us in a place of closed heartedness. It will create an enemy even if one does not exist. Being fearless does not mean we have to stop or deny the fear; fearlessness is not a state of being without fear. Rather, it is fully feeling the fear, getting to know it, and then making friends with it.

If we divide reality into two camps—the violent and the nonviolent— and stand in one camp while attacking the other, the world will never have peace. –Thich Nhat Hanh, Noble Peace Prize Nominee

Mahatma Gandhi changed the course of history in India by proving that non-violence is more powerful than violence, bringing an end to British domination as he inspired millions of others to follow his lead. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize for practicing non-violence towards the invading Chinese. Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Ang San Suu Kyi, and Archbishop Tutu have all stood out as practicing harmlessness or pacifism, often in the face of tremendous opposition, while Swami Satchidananda taught ahimsa or non-injury is the one practice in yoga that leads to Self-realization.

Deb was raised a Quaker, whose creed is found in the statement, To travel over the earth meeting that of God in every man. This is reflected in the Buddhist and Yoga teaching of ahimsa. This sounds so simple, but harmlessness actually requires a complete shift in attitude. In a world where selfishness and self-interest are the norm it takes great courage not to react with greed or anger, which only cause harm. Simply by causing less pain, each of us can bring greater dignity to or world. By recognizing the fundamental equality of all beings, harm is replaced with harmlessness, disrespect with respect.

We will always blame and condemn those we feel are responsible for wars and social injustice, without recognizing the degree of violence in ourselves. We must work on ourselves as well as with those we condemn if we wish to move towards peace. –Thich Nhat Hanh

Aspiring to live harmlessly confronts us with the many ways we may be causing harm without realizing it, whether by ignoring someone’s feelings, by using more of the earth’s resources than we need, or by buying products made by underage and underpaid workers. What to do when ants or cockroaches invade the kitchen or slugs eat away at the vegetable garden, yet we do not want to harm them?

And how often do we do things that are hurtful or harmful to ourselves? How many times a day, subtly or otherwise, do we put ourselves down, reaffirm our hopelessness, dislike our appearance, or see ourselves as incompetent or unworthy? How much resentment, guilt or shame are we holding on to, thus perpetuating past negativity?

Are you ready to honor yourself and others? Is it not time to end the war within? For only then can we end the violence in the world.

20 comments

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers4 years ago

Revenge is anything but sweet.

David S.
David S.4 years ago

While the wisdom of this essay deserves full praise, I must note something that needs to be raised when Gitmo is mentioned. Pacifists like myself and the Shapiros would oppose violence to Gitmo prisoners just because they are human beings. However, because most people are not pacifists, and because most people believe the lie of the official account of what happened on 9/11, including most readers of Gandhitopia and Care2; we who oppose the current wars by the US against Asian countries display cowardice and weakness.

The average war supporting citizen would likely oppose these current wars IF they realized the government is lying about 9/11. Sadly, ALL major US journals that oppose these wars also suppress real discussion of what happened that day.

In addition, Muslim immigrants to the west are burdened by unfair treatment by those who believe the official story. Gandhiji would certainly appreciate efforts to lessen bias against Muslims.

I am the only regular US practitioner of public arrest for a higher cause who advocates as Gandhi did, plead guilty and suffer in jail to touch the heart of the adversary( See my Facebook page Gandhian Resistance). I also am founder of 8 outreach teams at Architects and Engineers for 911Truth( AE911Truth.org). We have nearly 1700 vetted and verified architects and engineers who say the towers came down from controlled demolition.

Here is the simplest of arguments. This is junior high level science.

The towers came straight

David S.
David S.4 years ago

While the wisdom of this essay deserves full praise, I must note something that needs to be raised when Gitmo is mentioned. Pacifists like myself and the Shapiros would oppose violence to Gitmo prisoners just because they are human beings. However, because most people are not pacifists, and because most people believe the lie of the official account of what happened on 9/11, including most readers of Gandhitopia and Care2; we who oppose the current wars by the US against Asian countries display cowardice and weakness.

The average war supporting citizen would likely oppose these current wars IF they realized the government is lying about 9/11. Sadly, ALL major US journals that oppose these wars also suppress real discussion of what happened that day.

In addition, Muslim immigrants to the west are burdened by unfair treatment by those who believe the official story. Gandhiji would certainly appreciate efforts to lessen bias against Muslims.

I am the only regular US practitioner of public arrest for a higher cause who advocates as Gandhi did, plead guilty and suffer in jail to touch the heart of the adversary( See my Facebook page Gandhian Resistance). I also am founder of 8 outreach teams at Architects and Engineers for 911Truth( AE911Truth.org). We have nearly 1700 vetted and verified architects and engineers who say the towers came down from controlled demolition.

Here is the simplest of arguments. This is junior high level science.

The towers came straight

David S.
David S.4 years ago

While the wisdom of this essay deserves full praise, I must note something that needs to be raised when Gitmo is mentioned. Pacifists like myself and the Shapiros would oppose violence to Gitmo prisoners just because they are human beings. However, because most people are not pacifists, and because most people believe the lie of the official account of what happened on 9/11, including most readers of Gandhitopia and Care2; we who oppose the current wars by the US against Asian countries display cowardice and weakness.

The average war supporting citizen would likely oppose these current wars IF they realized the government is lying about 9/11. Sadly, ALL major US journals that oppose these wars also suppress real discussion of what happened that day.

In addition, Muslim immigrants to the west are burdened by unfair treatment by those who believe the official story. Gandhiji would certainly appreciate efforts to lessen bias against Muslims.

I am the only regular US practitioner of public arrest for a higher cause who advocates as Gandhi did, plead guilty and suffer in jail to touch the heart of the adversary( See my Facebook page Gandhian Resistance). I also am founder of 8 outreach teams at Architects and Engineers for 911Truth( AE911Truth.org). We have nearly 1700 vetted and verified architects and engineers who say the towers came down from controlled demolition.

Here is the simplest of arguments. This is junior high level science.

The towers came straight

Noreen Niamath
Noreen Niamath4 years ago

Ghandi

Abbe A.
Azaima A.4 years ago

right

Kirsten B.
Past Member 4 years ago

Very thought provoking article. Thank you.

Even when you think you've got one aspect cracked, another one just shoots up to catch your attention or awareness ... an ongoing practice and many of us can only aspire to be even a thousandth as strong as all those wonderful role models.

Mary Mattarelli
Mary Mattarelli4 years ago

Thanks

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran4 years ago

Thanks.

Sean Chung
Sean Chung4 years ago

Thank you for the thoughtful article.