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Poverty is the worst form of violence…….Gandhi

August 15, 2009

In honor of India’s Independence Day, Number One Hubby and I watched the Gandhi movie. It is so sad how much history I do not know. But I learned some today.

62 years ago, Indians were released from British rule and became free to run their country as they wanted – free to keep their resources as their own and to keep the profits generated from them. Congratulations!

The level of violence that was involved is amazingly little, especially given the potential for an all out war. The restraint practiced against the British soldiers and police was almost unfathomable. Congratulations again! It seems there was more internal violence between clashing religious groups than anything else. Unfortunately.

In the movie, Gandhi said this quote, “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Now, I cannot know for sure if this is an actual quote from Gandhi or a Hollywood writer’s scripted idea – but I am fairly sure it is at least a sentiment he must have conveyed at some point. Later in the movie, Gandhi’s wife shared that Gandhi fought against injustices for women and the poor.

Another thing shared in the movie was the idea that material possessions trap you and make it hard to comes to grips with what is important in life. They are distractions that we should relinquish in order to become more resolute in our faith. Gandhi himself seemed to have nothing material. He even made his own clothes.

Now I do understand the distinction between giving up material possessions and being “forced” into poverty – or at least pushed back into it if you try to overcome it. But still, the dichotomy of these two ideas strikes me – especially because they were both echoed by the same man. Their premises are certainly intertwined. I do not know where I stand on it – but which is it – poverty is the worst form of violence – or a lack of material possessions can lead you to a purer life?

Your thoughts…………..

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruno Couder permalink
    September 12, 2012 8:10 am

    About the tittle of this post, I suggest you visit ATD Fourth World website who has achieved a great work about “Poverty is violence, breaking silence, searching for peace”, where very poor people have shared their own experience and thoughts
    http://www.atd-fourthworld.org/-Colloquium-2012-Extreme-poverty-is-.html
    Bruno Couder

  2. Rajni permalink
    October 29, 2011 2:51 am

    Poverty is almost always not by choice !!! I suppose therein lies the difference …

    Gandhi was quite amazing in much of what he said more so becuase he was also very human and was flawed …I must confess I never ‘got’ him when I was a kid or even young ….Its only with some maturity that i begin to comprehend the incredible power of conviction with humility !!! Iam saddened that we were not taught enough Gandhian principles at school and Im not quite sure if we are even now in india…

  3. August 19, 2009 7:43 am

    Aah! Richard Attenborough strikes again!!! I’ve must have seen this film more than a dozen times on TV. Doordarshan (state owned television) used to broadcast this film for all kinds of occasions, 15th August, 26th January, 2nd October. Great film. Great man. But I do not agree with his methods, not entirely.

  4. August 17, 2009 11:07 pm

    An agumentative Indian, that I am first thought of checking the dictionary meaning of poverty and this is what I found-

    1. pov·er·ty (pvr-t)

    1. The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.
    2. Deficiency in amount; scantiness: “the poverty of feeling that reduced her soul” (Scott Turow).
    3. Unproductiveness; infertility: the poverty of the soil.
    4. Renunciation made by a member of a religious order of the right to own property.

    And I can’t stop wondering as to why we measure this state in terms of material wealth only…..You know what really captures my imagination, everytime I see a poor man on road is his/her ability to smile/maintain calm and composure…….they seldom resort to violence and are a happy and contended lot….Having said that, I am not saying that poverty alleviation should be shelved……

    Rather, the point that I am trying to make is that happiness quotient of people living with limited means is generally higher than their not so poor counterparts…..precisely because life for them is never about amassing wealth but being happy in whatever little do they manage…….On the other hand, we spend our whole lives in chasing those material comforts…….Else how would you explain two billionaire brothers fighting for oil and gas in India……..Don’t you think that those fights are also a form of violence and coming in as it did from two of world’s wealthiest men…….I am sure you also have innumerable examples in US of poor yet not so poor people…….MJ, in my views died in abject poverty despite living on a multi million dollar ranch…….

    It’s very difficult to organise my thoughts on this subject as vastness of this topic makes it quite difficult to comprehend it……

    All I am interested in following:
    ~ The state should do utmost possible to give people a reason to indulge in economic pursuits to be able to afford basic means of livelihood.

    ~ We, so called well-offs should do our best to give back whatever little we can to the society….

    ~ The emphasis should always be on raising the selfesteem of people so that they think twice before start begging on the streets……Yes, it makes me furious when I see a healthy man or woman beg on the same street where another not so fortunate person is busy working on a construction site in 46 degress….It’s not that there are no enough means…..just that lack of self esteem and people start begging…….and I have seen ppl beg in biggest of western cities as well……..

    ~ Hyphenation of India and poverty needs to stop as poverty is no Indian phenomena but a global reality…..just that India has a bigger population base which makes it look quite big…….You will agree that, but for social security, there would have been enough poor people on US roads begging…especially in this new economic order!

    Having said that, I completely agree with your view point on poverty and your observation……..just that India makes it look so obvious……

    Last but not the least, I love reading your posts…..

    Best,
    Alok
    http://reveda.blogspot.com/

    • August 18, 2009 12:34 am

      Thanks Alok – I agree completely – it is not always the poor man who is the poorest. And with a billion people it is more obvious. There are beggars everywhere. They even perch themselves outside of Barak Obama’s house in Washington, DC. And I agree that it is amazing that many people find this to be their best option. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  5. August 15, 2009 10:31 pm

    Tottsmom- I am reminded of one of the Christian Beatitudes that “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. Our “things” are certainly distractions – but I wonder does it really matter how someone becomes meek. Certainly if you choose a life free of material possessions you are less likely to resent that life – which frees you to embrace that life – but it is interesting to think about. Poor people living in a city are burdened with no natural resources to live off of because development has taken that all away – so they are forced to depend on the kindness of man – but those who live in villages and make due with even limited natural resources – is there a difference?

  6. Tottsmom permalink
    August 15, 2009 12:41 pm

    My thoughts…I think there is a difference between poverty and giving up ones material possessions. Poverty to me indcates an inability to obtain the basic human needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and clean water to care for oneself, muchless ones family. Whereas giving up ones material possessions is voluntary and not ment to deprive you of the basic needs, just un-clutter your life, so you can focus on deepening your faith. As I look around my house I realize there are a lot of possessions cluttering up my life. It is hard to give them up. Maybe someday I’ll be able to let go of things and depend more on God. I’m working on it, or rather He’s working on me. Just my thoughts..

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