"Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”.
It's a famous quote which lots of us have heard ... but do you know who said it?
Well it was a man called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - the man who we know now as 'Mahātmā,' Gandhi... and he was born on this day - October 2nd - in the year 1869 .
Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, an anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist and activist who is renowned for using 'nonviolent resistance' to lead the successful campaign which led to India's independence from British rule in 1947.
He was a hugely charismatic and inspiring character who, although he was wanting rid of the British Raj who had ruled over India since 1858, epitomised a 'way of peace'.
At a time when others advocated militant guerrilla warfare against the British, he proposed an opposite way. He fasted to persuade others not to riot. In response to the British monopoly and taxes on salt - among other things, an essential for cooking and preserving food - Gandhi defied the salt laws not with violence or even by shouting, but by leading a Salt March, which ended with him making salt from seawater by evaporation. He had started his march in early 1930 with just 78 trusted followers but the long walk was 240miles and took 24 days, and along the way he was joined by thousands. It's reckoned by the time of the salt making at a place now called Dandi, more than 50,000 people were gathered to watch the act of defiance.
In fact, it inspired people to act similarly. When Gandhi broke the British Raj salt laws on 6 April 1930, it started a movement of large scale acts of civil disobedience against the salt laws by millions of Indians. They felt empowered and inspired by their quiet leader's example. They saw 'another way'.
Gandhi's life and way of living and being meant that, even before this time in his life he was revered as a 'wise man'. His first political activism started in South Africa where he lived and worked as a young man and it was there back in 1914 that he was first given the honorary title 'Mahātmā - which can be translated from the Sanskrit as "great-souled"and "venerable".
Mahatma Gandhi's way of nonviolent resistance has down the years inspired civil rights and freedom movements across the world. The idea of achieving goals like social change not through bombs and killings and violence but through quiet protests, civil disobedience and political and/or economic non-cooperation can be seen as 'weak' by some, but actually it's the opposite. It's the way of strength and resolve. It's the way of courage and understanding. It's the way of compassion and empathy.
I'm sure most of us have things we would like to change ... maybe we would like to change the world ... but often we look for outside factors to change before we look at ourselves. We think if we change the circumstances around us then THAT will result in the transformations we desire.
But this quote from this wise man reminds us that if we want the world to change, we need to make that change happen first within ourselves.
If we want a world where love is all around, maybe we need to start by being more loving ourselves. If we don't want a world where argument reigns, then we need to hold our tongues and use our own words wisely.
If we wish to live in a kind world, we may need to ensure WE are kind first.
If we want a society which is more understanding, then we need - I think - to practice being more understanding. If we're not tolerant how can we expect our world to be a tolerant place?
So today, let's think about the change that WE might have to be, if we are to see a changed world. It's profound, and challenging, and it may mean we need to completely turn OUR lives around.
What a challenging philosophy! But imagine what the world could look like if we are that change!
Have a great day everyone!