Tyler Jones's Reviews > The Story of My Experiments With Truth

The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
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Jul 23, 11

bookshelves: non-violence
Read in January, 1986

Excuse the ramblings of a mind coping to understand...this really is a book review...of sorts.

Yesterday, a man in Oslo set off a bomb that killed seven people then went to a kid's camp and killed eighty four young people. The world is sickened. Why do these things happen? Details are still coming out. At first I heard an Islamic militant group had claimed responsibility. Now it seems that the killer may be an extreme anti-islamic; a christian fundamentalist. What is clear is that somehow he was able to justify his actions because human life was less valuable to him than his ideals.

Societies sometimes justify violence (war, torture, capital punishment...) by saying they are protecting certain ideals. When violence is justified on such large levels, it can not be too surprising when an individual finds ways to justify violence as well. It could be a single man in Oslo. It could be a million men who beat their wives and children.

Violence is violence. In its most extreme and violent manifestations, we can plainly see that it is senseless, but in its more commonplace variations it can be tolerated or ignored. It seems that to many of us there is some line between acceptable and unacceptable violence and maybe this is part of the problem; we can compartmentalize and label the violence we do not like as the work of the evil or insane.

Back in university I read this book by Gandhi. Those who think that they cannot defend or promote ideals without the use of violence are either ignorant or (more likely) lazy, because the non-violent path is much, much harder to walk than the violent one. Violence is easy. Revenge is natural. But Gandhi was able to lead an entire nation to freedom without bombing police stations. The writing of Gandhi is all about the individual having dignity and independence - that self respect comes from respecting others. Gandhi's writing is a roadmap to a better world. I think that those who have not read Gandhi have an overly simplified vision of the man; that he was simply a pacifist or an unrealistic dreamer. I know that's what I used to think. But he was primarily concerned with erasing social injustice; non-violence was simply the best means to his ends. The best and most difficult.

It is time for us to reject "by any means necessary" and revenge seeking and punishing and all the eye-for-an-eye bullshit. All this generally condoned social violence just seeps into individuals where it collects as pure hate.
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Sarath Chandra I always believed that the end never justified the means but the means always do justify the end.
Gandhi personified this.


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