Friday, May 18, 2007

Carrying on a Legacy of Peace

Like his grandfather Mahatma K. Gandhi, Arun Gandhi speaks in a soft and gentle tone, but his message is one of power and strength. He speaks of the power humankind has to inflict change in the world through non-violent means. He encourages people to find the strength to separate anger from violence. Anger, he says, is a natural emotion; violence is not natural, it is a learned behavior that man too often chooses to respond to anger.

As a young child, Arun Gandhi was the victim of racial prejudice and violence growing up in South Africa. His life changed when his parents, frustrated with young Arun's reaction of violence against violence, sent him to live with his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, in India. His grandfather had a profound influence on Arun, so much so that Arun now has dedicated his life to carry on his grandfather's legacy of teaching about non-violence and influencing peace throughout the world.

Arun Gandhi brought his message of peace to ninth grade students at the International School of Beaverton, where he shared the story of his young life and how he chose, at an age similar to that of the student audience, to follow the lessons of his grandfather and be a catalyst for peace. He is the founder of The Gandhi Institute and through his work has met with the world's leaders to speak of solving differences through non-violent means. During the hour he spent with the students, Gandhi engaged in a dialog of questions and answers. It was a rare opportunity to share time with a man who continues the work of the most renowned symbol of peace through the human spirit; Mahatma Gandhi.

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