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Non violent, never passive: remembering Gandhi

By Lyn Bender - posted Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Mark Seymour of Aussie rock's Hunters and Collectors, wore his heart on his T shirt while singing Holy Grail at the Melbourne Footy Final. He was acting as part of a noble tradition: Gandhian non violent protest and resistance to injustice.

Seymour, sang 'no-one deserves to die' while pointing to his T shirt emblazoned with Asylum Seeker

Describing an epiphany he had at a Victorian Detention Centre Mark says that he was stunned to see the welcoming energetic appreciation of refugees. He had expected to see a 'depressed browbeaten and sad crowd'. But they just erupted with excitement. Some had been in detention for 4years. Mark was experiencing the power of one, to effect many. Mark's protest was timely, While we counted footy scores another tally was taking place; the death toll from a boat sinking off the Java and the drowning of at least 20 refugee children and families. Many are still missing.


India celebrates the Mahatma Gandhi's birthday on October 2nd which is also now the United Nations International Day of Non Violence.

The message from Gandhi is"There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for. "Mahatma Gandhi
The Story of My Experiments with Truth, 1927" It is a cruel irony that the man of modest demeanour who brought the message of non-violent resistance to India and the world, Mahatma Gandhi was killed while on his way to evening prayers.

In an unfair twist, those whose lives have been about fighting in peace for equality, can fall victim to the forces they oppose. Like Gandhi Martin Luther King was killed [20 years later]by an assassin's bullet. In an interview in the year before his death, he responds to accusations that protest demonstrations have incited violence. King declares, that it is like blaming the Dr [who discovers cancer] for causing the cancer by its exposition. King deliberately adopted Gandhian principles of non violence

It is indeed a remarkable achievement that Gandhi should have inspired a movement against [British] oppression not only in India, but also symbolically played a part in the Civil Rights movement in the United States.

This alone makes his birthday worthy of continued celebration, decades after his death.

But is his message relevant today? Yes it is, more than ever.


There are enormous crises facing our world. These include the catastrophes that are predicted as a result of our failure to take real action against climate change, The latest IPCC report warns us that there is a greater need than ever for united global co-operative action to curb emissions. and to fight catastrophic climate collapse. Naïve attempts to protect narrowly conceived national interests will not contain the impacts. We will also be faced with feeding growing populations, and scarcity of arable land and of water.

There will be the challenges of increased displacement of people and the management of violent conflict that could ensue from these massive problems.

Despite protests of denial [raised inflamed and instigated by vested interests], against climate science; the latest IPCC report tells us that the jury is in. Global warming is happening , dangerous and caused by the greenhouse gas emissions of humans. We are left to face our failure to address climate change. If we refuse to act now ,we will increase the suffering of many in our own time, especially of the poor and of all future generations.

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About the Author

Lyn Bender is a psychologist in private practice. She is a former manager of Lifeline Melbourne and is working on her first novel.

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