Monthly Archives: September 2010

Gandhi’s Grandson

We want to create world peace. But peace is not merely the absence of war. There is so much internal strife and that prejudice feeds into the national aspect. We have to change ourselves if we want to change the world. – Arun Manilal Gandhi

I love the channels at the end of the satellite spectrum, the public access and noncommercial ones. That’s where I find some real treasures. Today’s treasure was the wisdom of Arun Manilal Gandhi, courtesy of an address made at BYU on 23 March 1999, broadcast on KBYU, 8AM on a Saturday morning. He taught about controlling anger and controlling violence not only against other people, but also violence against the world. When you consider the violence contained in the disposal of a usable pencil, and the nonviolence in picking up the disposed pencil for more use, you will see part of the lessons he taught.

He discussed keeping an anger journal. He said it would be useful if one kept it in order to control anger and to change its ability to control us. This sounds like something I’d like to take up. If we hold ourselves to account for our violence, we will want to naturally reduce our debts in that area.

We would also want to do that to be a better example to others. The healing the world needs begins first in our own hearts. Whether Gandhi or Jesus says it, it’s still true.

Anything done through fear will not last. Anything done through love will last forever. – Arun Manilal Gandhi

Ten Years Gone

I first heard this Led Zeppelin song when I started listening to the radio back in the 6th grade. I always liked the guitar riffs in it and loved the complexity of the melodies. I never really understood the lyrics, and reading them didn’t help much. They just sort of conveyed a feeling of yearning for some bygone time. When I found out the title, “Ten Years Gone”, that yearning feeling grew in my imagination.

I was 11 years old when I first heard it and maybe almost 13 when I first bought the Physical Graffiti album and discovered the title of the song. I was a kid, then, barely ten years after any sort of thing. The stuff ten years gone in my past was far, far behind me and wasn’t the stuff of yearning. So I imagined then what my life would be like in ten years, when I could reflect back on that moment.

It’s now 30 years later, give or take some months. The song came up in my mix and I had to sit back and reflect on what happened to that young boy from 1979 or 1981. I put the song on repeat and started this note.

I closed my eyes and saw the world as I saw it back then, looking out of my second story bedroom window on the yard below. Yes, I’m older and more experienced, but there’s still a part of me that’s 11 years old. I still look into the world and find a way to discover its magic in spite of all the evil that tries to get in the way. I love to discover new things, to find the good on the planet. It’s there, and my heart is open to receive it.

Now that I’m 42, there’s plenty in my life that’s now 10 years old or more. Have I been a good steward of the life that 11-year-old bequeathed to me in all my annual incarnations? Have I done right by the boy that looked out the window and wondered what it would be like to one day reflect on ten years since something happened? I’d like to think so. My heart tells me so, and my mind has no objections.

And I still look to that future and what it will hold for me. I truly have no idea what each passing moment may require of me, but I know if I approach the things that are coming with a heart wide open and eyes ready to see the good in everyone, I’ll find the hope that keeps me going.

Deuteronomy and the Constitution

I tire of hearing people declare the Constitution is founded upon Judaeo-Christian principles and then proceed to use that as an argument to justify something horrendous, like ending true religious freedom or letting corporations or populists blind us to their insidious attempts to further undermine the dignity of humanity. Let’s set the facts straight: the Constitution is based upon the laws of mammon, not God.

Mammon is the Hebrew word for financial dealings. One who deals with money is a mammonai, simple as that. For those that claim to be Christian fundamentalists, they need to know that Jesus told his followers that they can choose to serve either God or mammon. The two are exclusive. And yet, the Constitution enshrines protections for the worst excess of capitalism: chattel slavery.

Looking back in the Old Testament, one finds these verses dealing with the treatment of escaped slaves:

15 Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:
16 He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.
– Deuteronomy 23:15-16

And now, from the Constitution:

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due. – US Constitution, Article 4 Section 2

The Constitution is in opposition to the Law of Moses. The Constitution is therefore not Judaeo, nor is it Christian, with or without the hyphenation. The first limitation on the powers of Congress is its restriction against Congress doing away with slavery. What would Jesus do? Hmmm?

Men wrote the Constitution. Men made compromises with each other, bargained, debated, and settled for less than they demanded in the process of writing the Constitution. Men continue to work with the document, not prophets. Moses’ law did not serve as the basis for the Constitution, nor did Jesus’. If the writers of the Constitution did not choose God, then they must have been serving mammon. Let the blood of every slave worked to death in the fields testify to that conclusion.