Category Archives: Tolerant people of the past

Tolerant people of the past: Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Tolerant person of the past: Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and ...

Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), political and spiritual leader of India.

 

Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most influential Indians of the last century is most famous for his non-violent civil disobedience. He was the leader of Indian Nationalism in British- ruled India. Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.

What would he say if he would look at the world today? How would he respond to the movie “Innocence of Muslims” and the following protests? Gandhi also had to deal with violent clashes between religions, and even though he was a great man, he could not stop it from happening. However it is argued that without his presence and persistence on non-violence the clashed would have been bigger, bloodier and deadlier. He had to live with racism while living in South-Africa, and deal with the intricate caste-system in India upon his return. The troubles of today are not that different from the troubles back then. Religions battle for ownership of absolute truth, creating enemies out of everyone who does not belief the same.

Democratic freedom has been won by India, and people live (mostly) in peace. In the Middle-East however this freedom has not been won in most countries, or has only been won recently and the political struggle has not (yet) evolved into a democratic political process. But the dictator has been beaten, the dragon has been slain, but the world did not change overnight. There is the need for an enemy, someone needs to be blamed. The difficult political relationship that has evolved over the past decades between the Western World and the Middle-East creates a platform for the search of an enemy. And when the insults keep coming, it is easy to hate.

Gandhi promoted asceticism; compassion for all forms of life; the importance of vows for self discipline; vegetarianism; fasting for self-purification; mutual tolerance among people of different creeds; and “syadvad,” the idea that all views of truth are partial.

Mutual tolerance of people of different creeds.

The idea that all views of truth are partial.

In times like these we could use someone to stand up and be the new Gandhi.

“Be the change that you want to see in the world”

 

Series: Tolerant people of the past

Charlie Chaplin

Mother Theresa

Related:

Freedom of speech vs Innocence of Muslims

 

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Tolerant people of the past: Mother Theresa

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997)...

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997); at a pro-life meeting in 1986 in Bonn, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mother Theresa

I can remember her well, the old wrinkly lady on tv. By the time I had the maturity to appreciate her work wholeheartedly she was no longer officially in office. But she had such a charisma and noble vibe around her that she was still quite often in the news, helping in one of her missions, trying to make the life of the poorest of the poor a little bit better. She did not do this for fame or money: it was her life’s mission.

 

 

 

She was the recipient of the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. She refused the conventional banquet given to laureates, and asked that the $192.000 funds be given to the poor in India. Mother Theresa stated that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world’s needy. All over the world she worked hard to battle for people that needed support. Even though she was a devout Christian, her work transgressed over the boundaries of religious teachings. Teresa received Vatican permission on 7 October 1950 to start the diocesan congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity. Its mission was to care for, in her own words, “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

Her actions aimed at the poorest of the poor, but she was not blind for the difficult problems that are common in western civilized societies. I will not state that there is no poverty in Western Society, however the problems are significantly different from the poorest people in for example India. Recognizing this difference in her Nobel price speech Mother Theresa stated:

“Around the world, not only in the poor countries, but I found the poverty of the West so much more difficult to remove. When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread, I have satisfied. I have removed that hunger. But a person that is shut out, that feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person that has been thrown out from society—that poverty is so hurtable and so much, and I find that very difficult.”

The life of Mother Theresa shows devotion and action for people that need it most. Be more like her, and be kinder to people that are not as fortunate as you are.

How did the life of Mother Theresa influence you? What is it about her that you remember the most? And how do you see her life from the perspective of tolerance?

I’d love your feedback. Also if you have a suggestion to spot someone in the spotlight let me know!

Series: Tolerant people of the past:

Charlie Chaplin

 

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Tolerant people of the past: Charlie Chaplin

I am not the first nor the last to try and create a more tolerant attitude in our society. There have been great people in the past, each trying to make the world a better place in their way. I want to make this a series in which every week a different person is put in the spotlight. If you have a recommendation then please comment. It does not even have to be a famous person, if the story is moving I will post it.

This week: Charlie Chaplin (Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin) 1889-1997

There is a lot to say about Charlie Chaplin, but a biography can be easily found elsewhere (see link above). I will let his work speak for itself.

Although he is best known for his during the silent film era, the most fitting work for this blog is his masterpiece The Great Dictator (1940). The barber’s speech is a true work of art and a timeless speech. I shall let you judge it for yourself:

 

The Barber’s speech

Closing speech of the Jewish barber, after being mistaken for Hynkel. – Full text, video and audio online at American Rhetoric

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness — not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another.

In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood, for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world — millions of despairing men, women and little children — victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say — do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed — the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes — men who despise you — enslave you — who regiment your lives — tell you what to do — what to think or what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men — machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate — the unloved and the unnatural!
Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the 17th Chapter of St. Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” — not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power — the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power! Let us all unite! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth the future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie! They do not fulfill their promise; they never will. Dictators free themselves, but they enslave the people! Now, let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers! In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

[Cheers]
Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up, Hannah. The clouds are lifting. The sun is breaking through. We are coming out of the darkness into the light. We are coming into a new world, a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed and brutality. Look up, Hannah. The soul of man has been given wings, and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow — into the light of hope, into the future, the glorious future that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up, Hannah. Look up

 

 

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