Conference on nonviolence comes to HC
By biconews On 22 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Joseph Badtke-Berkow

Two years after launching an initiative called “A Season for Nonviolence” from Haverford, Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, will return to the college this Friday to open a two-day dialogue that will deal with major areas of violence, nonviolence and conflict resolution.

The forum is a sequel to the conference held at Haverford in 1998 which met with such great success that Gandhi turned it into an ongoing international initiative with the goal of reintroducing the vision and teachings of men like Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Arun Gandhi was born in South Africa, and after years of exposure to racial bigotry and persecution under apartheid was sent to India to live with his grandfather. At Mahatma Gandhi’s side he would witness first-hand the nonviolent and violent protests against British rule and the country’s eventual day of independence. Gandhi settled in India and worked as a reporter and nonviolent social reformer fighting against the caste system and working to better the lives of the nation’s poor.

Like his grandfather, Gandhi has been a vocal proponent of nonviolent resistance to social injustices the world over. He views nonviolence as an integral first step towards peace, healing and a better understanding of the basic differences between worldviews that so often lead to violence and oppression. Individuals must first recognize and control their anger if they are looking for peace.

“Anger is a beautiful thing. It’s a wonderful tool, and it’s just like electricity,” explained Gandhi during his last visit to Haverford. “It is beautiful and powerful if we use it properly and channel it correctly. If we abuse it, it can be very damaging. With it, we could destroy ourselves and everything around us.”

The conference is the result of collaboration between Arun Gandhi’s organization, the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, and Ashok Gangadean, Professor of philosophy at Haverford and the co-founder and head of the Global Dialogue Institute which is sponsoring the event. Both men are dedicated to identifying and embracing the common bonds between diverse worldviews that can lead to deeper understanding and peace through a process that professor Gangadean calls “deep dialogue.”

He argues that violence sterns from “egocentric” thought and that the solution to the problem cannot be any ordinary discussion. Conflicts and differences can only be resolved when people are able to find the inherent connections between seemingly divergent ways of thinking.

“We want diversity and sensitivity. We want to overcome racism and the objectification of human beings, we want to have a civic polis in which there is real democracy where people can really speak their minds and realize their individuality and yet come together in a community,”

said Gangadean. “That is what the world is looking for.”

On Thursday, the 1982 film Gandhi, winner of eight Oscars, will be shown in Chase Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. and will be preceded by a discussion.

Opening remarks from Professor Gangadean and Arun Gandhi, and a keynote address from Barnard College Professor of political science Dennis Dalton, who is the author of Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action, will be given on Friday, February 25. On Saturday, February 26, there will be four open dialogues focusing on key areas of nonviolence featuring experts from Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore and Temple.

The forum will end Saturday evening with a concert featuring renowned Indian vocalist and guitarist Deepak Kumar, accompanied Bhavani Torok, an American who specializes in Indian dance.

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