“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this
ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”
~ Albert Einstein (after Gandhi’s 1948 assassination)
“I found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi … the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Gandhi’s Original 9/11 Truth Movement.
Since September 11, 2001, many people commemorate September 11 as a day that will live in infamy – a day of treachery, often cited (disingenuously or duplicitously) as pretext for an Orwellian era of endless war, violence and dystopian deprivation of civil liberties.
(See PBS Documentary 9/11-Explosive Evidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l-8PFk8j5I)
But, paradoxically, few realize that – almost a century before the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC – it was on a September 11 when Mahatma Gandhi launched his extraordinary “satyagraha” peace and justice movement through which Gandhi, and countless others inspired by him, have accomplished much good in the world by non-violently resisting and transforming widespread social injustice and oppression.
During and since his extraordinary lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi has been venerated worldwide as one of the greatest spiritual and political leaders not just of our time, but of all times. Because he walked his talk authentically, peacefully, and spiritually, his words and life have been exceptionally inspiring and powerful. [*See Epilogue]
Mahatma Gandhi changed the world by being the non-violent change he wanted see, particularly the end of the British Raj in India, followed by Indian independence and democracy.
Gandhi’s legacy includes not just his campaign for Indian independence, but it began with his brilliantly waged struggle against institutionalized apartheid racism in South Africa, with ground-breaking inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
On September 11, 1906, a young lawyer named Mohandas K. Gandhi organized and addressed a meeting of 3,000 people crowded into the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa. Members of the Indian community – both Moslem and Hindu – had gathered there in opposition to a proposed law that would require Indians to register, be finger-printed and carry special identity cards at all times, and which would further deprive them of civil liberties for failure to comply with the law.
Gandhi argued that the law be resisted, but warned that resisters realize that they could be jailed, fined, beaten and even killed. The assembly not only declared its opposition to the legislation; its members raised their right hands and swore, with God as their witness, that they would not submit to such a law.
Gandhi’s legendary talk at the Empire Theater meeting is dramatically portrayed by academy award winning actor Ben Kingsley in this excerpt from the epic film “Gandhi”:
The next day after the meeting, the Empire Theater was mysteriously destroyed by fire.
Following their September 11th meeting and pledge, Indians refused to register and began burning their ID cards at mass rallies and protests. Thus began the original 9/11 non-violence movement that would literally change the world as the most powerful positive tool for salutary social change.
Because it sought more than just non-violent redress of social injustice, Gandhi called his movement “satyagraha”, a Sanskrit neologism which he coined – meaning the “relentless pursuit of Truth”. Since Gandhi was a spiritual man in search of God, he often equated “Truth” with “God” And he acknowledged that he had been influenced by the teachings of Jesus, the writings of Tolstoy, and Thoreau’s famous essay, “Civil Disobedience.” Thus, Gandhi’s satyagraha movement was spiritual, not just political. It encompassed relentless pursuit of spiritual Truth through the political practice of active, faith-based nonviolence.
*Epilogue: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhian Nonviolence.
Of countless humans inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s life and words, most prominent and influential has been Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who honored Gandhi as a spiritual “guiding light …. of nonviolent social change”, and who in 1959 journeyed to India to study Gandhian methods, saying:
“To other countries, I may go as a tourist, but to India, I come as a pilgrim.”
In 1964 (at age 35) Dr. King became the youngest man ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for his nonviolent social activism in opposing racial segregation, poverty, and war. As a dedicated Christian disciple of Jesus, Dr. King
“found in the nonviolent resistance philosophy of Gandhi … the only morally and practically sound method open to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
Dr. King’s life paralleled Gandhi’s life. Each began as an outspoken advocate of inter-racial equality and social justice in racially segregated societies. Gradually their nonviolent missions expanded to encompass universal freedom, peace and social justice for everyone everywhere.
On humbly accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, as ‘trustee’ for countless unknown others, Dr. King cited Gandhi’s success in India as a key precedent encouraging nonviolent civil rights activism in the USA, saying:
“This [nonviolent] approach to the problem of racial injustice ….was used in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire and free his people from the political domination and economic exploitation inflicted upon them for centuries.”
And King described how (because of technological advances which imminently threaten nuclear/ecological catastrophe) the survival of humanity depends upon our nonviolently solving “the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war” by “living in harmony” with “all-embracing and unconditional love for all men”.
Eloquently he explained that
“[Love is] that force which all of the great religions [Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist] have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. . . . the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate Reality.”
Whereupon he recited this wisdom passage from the First Epistle of St John:
“Let us love one another: for love is of God;
and everyone that loves is born of God, and knows God.
He that loves not, knows not God; for God is love.
If we love one another, God dwells in us, and His
love is perfected in us.” [1 John 4:7-8; 12 ]”
Like Jesus and Gandhi – who also ‘heretically’ preached nonviolent love and forgiveness – King was martyred at (age 39), when his ‘heretic’ truth telling and expanding prophetic powers became intolerable barriers to US military/industrial war plans for Viet Nam and beyond.
May the seeds of political and spiritual “satyagraha” first sewn by Gandhi on September 11, 1906, at long last inspire current world leaders to abandon their woefully misguided efforts to address alleged ‘terrorist violence’ with more terrorist violence; and to join democratically with their peace seeking citizens in the non-violent relentless pursuit of secular and spiritual Truth, to end social injustice, war and oppression everywhere.
And so shall it be!
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture (full audio+text)