Mr. Gandhi and Mr Trump
by Ed Chasteen
Mr. Gandhi sits across the table from me. The imagination-deprived would see only a book upon the table. That book, though, is the heart and soul of Mohandas Gandhi. An Indian by birth, a lawyer by training, a spiritual giant by assiduous application of principle, this humble and soft spoken man freed India of colonial rule. The Story Of My Experiments With Truth is the title Gandhi chose for his autobiography. In the 505 pages of this riveting book, I heard him tell me in simple words how he came to active non-violent resistance.
Non-violent resistance to oppression was not an easy sell to the Indian masses. “It seemed well nigh impossible to make them realize the duty of combining civility with fearlessness,” Mr. Gandhi said to me. “Civility does not here mean the mere outward gentleness of speech cultivated for the occasion, but an inborn gentleness and desire to do the opponent good.”
“Mr. Gandhi,” I say, “when people call me naive and simple-minded for seeing the world as you see it, I feel inadequate to the task of helping them understand. But if the world cannot operate by this principle, Mr. Gandhi, then I can never willingly make my home here. This seems to me a spiritual law, without which the exchange of views and the relations between people quickly become intolerable and impossible.”
“I have made my self a rule to help in this regard,” Mr. Gandhi said to me. “It is my rule to understand the viewpoint of the party I propose to deal with, and to try to agree with him as far as possible.”
“If I did not know how you lived your life, Mr. Gandhi, I would see no wisdom at all in your statement. Knowing, though, that you stood virtually alone and seemingly defenseless on behalf of your people against the legal and military might of a world power, I find your statement singularly powerful. As a tactic for morally disarming your opponent, it is a stroke of genius.
“Thank you, also, for showing me where the search for truth leads. That paragraph on page 104 of your book captured the essence of your life and message. I hope you won’t think it presumptuous of me to quote it to you. You said: ‘To see the universal and all-pervading Spirit of Truth face to face one must be able to love the meanest of creation as oneself. And a man who aspires after that cannot afford to keep out of any field of life. That is why my devotion to Truth has drawn me into the field of politics; and I can say without the slightest hesitation, and yet in all humility, that those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means’.”
Mr. Gandhi, you are not alive in our day and did not live in our country. But how you lived in your day in your country leads me to think that you would love Donald Trump as a person and oppose him as a politican.
Because I find much to admire in your approach to solving political and moral problems, I must announce to those who care what I think that while I grant to Mr. Trump the right to believe and behave as he does, I do not support his wish to lead our nation. Our national and world stage calls for a leader more measured and nuanced. Mr. Trump should return to pivate businesses and let those who have devoted years to public affairs contest with one another.