It is the practice of nonviolence which these days receives the most attention among the values brought to us by Gandhi. The endemic violence in today’s world makes the commitment to nonviolence particularly difficult, but all the more important and urgent.
The Mahatma’s nonviolence teaching is not only a code of conduct for individuals but also for social institutions, religious communities, governments and other organizations. In the face of today’s problem with international terrorism, nonviolence in the spirit of Gandhi is ever more important. It cannot only be an attitude where we beg the aspirant terrorists to renounce their cruelties; it should be more than an open discussion in a pacific mode with potential enemies.
One of the primary teachings of Gandhi is that you cannot defeat violence and cruelty as long as you have not yourself completely renounced this ugliness. “Satyagraha – the Truth Force” allows the breaking of laws which are suppressive, but disallows violence! Therefore the high moral status of the defenders of democracy is of prime importance. The loss of this status provides an immense strength to their violent enemies.
Seen under this aspect, transgressions of the defenders of democracy, and dirty behavior of those who pretend to fight for democratic values and human rights, have greatly helped terrorists to recruit new combatants and to generate public sympathy and understanding for their ugly acts. However powerful the armaments of the defenders of democracy might be, the loss of their moral status substantially undermines their strength.
Another, more long-term aspect of Gandhi’s teaching is the effort to unite Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Schools and similar institutions cultivating hate towards other communities or groups of people have to be closed. This is true for Koranic schools, but not exclusively. These principles have to be applied to any structure which promotes a strong sense of sectarian identity; which distances one human being from the other, based on religion, ethnic belonging, or other beliefs.
The Board of the Conscience Institute has therefore decided to organize the Chromy Awards ceremony each year in honor of the Mahatma, celebrating his teachings and the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (or Spiritus Mundi as Anna Chromy calls it), the philosophy which considers the whole universe as one family.