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Published: Saturday, 10/1/2005

Peace walk to mark birthday of Gandhi

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR

Mohandas Gandhi believed that truth is God, and that truth can change the world.

Tomorrow, commemorating the Indian holy man s birth in Gujurat 136 years ago, the Hindu Temple of Toledo will hold a Celebration of Peace that includes a peace walk, prayers, lectures, and a unity song. The program is part of the communitywide Erase the Hate campaign.

Gandhi s modus operandi, if I may call it that, is using truth as a weapon, said Dr. Siva Yechoor, a Toledo psychiatrist who was born in India. Truth is God, nonviolence is love in action, and enduring peace is the result of conflict resolution.

Dr. Yechoor, who will be one of the speakers at tomorrow s celebration, said in an interview this week that Gandhi, who was given the title of mahatma, or great soul, used tactics that have been described as nonviolent aggression, an accurate oxymoron.

By refusing to return violence for violence, the Hindu religious leader and social reformer was able to inspire India s masses and bring about the end of British colonial rule.

In his view, you ve got to be truthful, honest, sacrifice for the sake of other people, and lead a nonviolent life. If everyone followed his message, the world would be at peace, Dr. Yechoor said.

The Rev. Jim Bacik, Catholic theologian and pastor of Toledo s Corpus Christi University Parish, will give a talk on how Gandhi s internal and external life were consistent.

His own inner peace allowed him to be a political peacemaker, Father Bacik said in an interview this week.

In western society, people usually say that God is truth, Father Bacik said, but Gandhi looked at from a different perspective by saying that truth is God.

He said that truth was the very breath of his life, and the sole objective of his quest. He had an innate passion for truth, Father Bacik said.

Gandhi s personal discipline and spiritual devotion, including fasting, praying, and periods of celibacy, combined with his keen political instincts led him to seek change through civil disobedience and other nonviolent methods.

His was not some idealistic effort, as some pacifists are accused of pursuing, but a realistic approach that achieved his goals, Father Bacik said. Gandhi s life and deeds inspired many others, including Martin Luther King, Jr., to follow the same nonviolent strategies.

Martin Luther King visited India and learned from Gandhi about this whole idea of nonviolence and civil disobedience, so Gandhi was a major influence on the civil rights movement in the United States, Father Bacik said.

In addition, at a time when U.S. troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gandhi s life forces us to think about alternatives to war, the priest said, and his theories stand in stark contrast to a lot of our thoughts about peace such as the need for a military balance of power or the threat of mutually assured destruction.

Tomorrow s Celebration of Peace program starts at 2:30 p.m. with a peace walk starting in the parking lot of the Meijer store, 7240 West Central Ave., Sylvania, proceeding to the Hindu Temple, 4336 King Rd. The events conclude with a unity song at 5:30 p.m. In addition to Father Bacik and Dr. Yechoor, the speakers will include Pandit Anant Dixit of the Hindu Temple, Rabbi Barry Leff of Congregation B nai Israel, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).



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