Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Hudson, Vivekananda, Gandhi, WTC and 9/11

There was an interesting discovery I made this evening as I glanced through The Hindu of September 19, 2010. It was an article titled Vivekanada, Gandhi and 9/11. The author, Rajni Bakshi weaves together three other significant 9/11s which indeed prove as crucial crossroads in the history of humanity. The first 9/11 is that of 1609: the day Henry Hudson, the first European landed on an island called 'Menatay' - today it is Manhattan.
Within half a century of Hudson's landing, much of the native population had been wiped out by European guns and germs, those who survived retreated inland.
The next significant 9/11 is of 1893: the day Swami Vivekananda gave his famous "Sisters and Brothers of America" speech at the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago. A day for celebrating peace and brotherhood through reason.
Vivekananda realised that all spiritual striving is beyond reason, but reason is the only way to get there. For, reason is the greatest gift of the human existence.
The other great 9/11 is of 1906: a day when Gandhiji first spoke of Satyagraha at the packed Imperial Theatre in Johannesburg.
In an atmosphere charged with anger and the will to fight, Gandhi dropped an idea that acted like a depth charge. Let us fight disciriminatory laws by refusing to comply - by offering unflinching non-violent resistance. His logic was impeccable. Truth is God and God is love. It follows that a struggle for justice cannot involve hurting one's opponent. Instead, the 'other' in a conflict must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. In turn, this means cultivating the willingness to examine 'truth' in all its many dimensions. This can only be done by being strong - not physical strength but the strength of truth-force or love-force.
What I liked best was the author's intention of drawing our attention to not the incident itself but the attitude with which we recall those incidents. That these ground-breaking events took place, is a fact, but with what outlook and attitude we face today and especially live the events related to these 9/11s is what really matters.

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