I had the amazing experience of having a private luncheon with Arun Ghandi, the 5th grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, this afternoon. There were 3 students and 2 of our world studies teachers at the table with us so we had 1 hour 15 minutes to ask any questions we wanted. (He was giving a lecture at College of DuPage tonight).
I was the first to ask a question. I asked him how it felt literally being raised by Mahatma Gandhi and how it impacted his childhood. He said it really didn't at the time, that he was too young to really understand the lessons his grandfather was teaching him, but they all stuck.
I went on to ask him the greatest lesson his grandfather ever taught him and he said it was turning anger into positive action and becoming an agent for change. I asked him why that was the most important lesson... he explained that he grew up in South Africa and was an in between race, he wasn't white or black and therefore was subjected to an immense amount of racism.
I asked him if also the notion of being able to convert anger into positive energy came into play when his grandfather was assassinated (I got a look of "did he really ask him that" from the other people at my table). He smiled and said "EXACTLY". When his grandfather was assassinated he actually had the urge to KILL people, like he really wanted too. (This is what hit me hardest, I don't know why)... He said one night he was going through Mahatmas notes and came across his teaching on anger and how to overcome it. And for once in his life, one of his grandfather's teachings made REAL sense to him and he says that is where he felt enlightened for the first time. I then went further and explained to him... if someone killed any member of my family, especially with a pre-meditated attack I would want to kill them as revenge. He said that instead of retaliating or continuing to be angry at the people who killed his grandfather he turned his anger into studying what causes people to do this so he can put an end to it... the original assassin was hung but the brother was still alive and Arun waited for him to be released from prison and set up a meeting with him. He thought it was important to forgive the individual and find out WHY he committed the terrible act and to reach out and help him.
Truly an amazing story and a serious good lesson about anger, which I tend to have a lot of...
Arun also hates affirmative action... he says it is one of the most ignorant laws ever to come into existance and it is just the government feeling sorry for their own exploitation of human rights with slavery/the caste system etc... He believes that instead of giving minorities jobs when they are less qualified as reparations for slavery and the like, we as a society should instead, help these minorities reach the level of the more qualified individuals (or in India's case the Brahman (higher) class).
Also for all you Agnostics out there, Arun has converted from Hinduism to a sort of Agnostic stance. When asked about religion, he compared it to climbing a mountain... everyone is climbing the same mountain, just on different sides... he compared Judaism/Christianity/Islam/Hinduism etc as we are all trying to get to God (the top of the mountain), we just do it in different ways.
He told another awesome story when one of the girls at the table asked him how he met his wife. He said he was in Bombay and got appendicitis and had to be rushed to the hospital. He started flirting with his nurse and they hit it off very well, when he actually approached her she said it wasn't professional for patient/doctor relationships. The day he got out of the hospital he went up to her and said "I'm not your patient anymore" and she accepted a date. They were to meet at a big movie theater in Bombay at 3:00pm then have an early dinner because she needed to be back in her dorm by 9:00pm because of university rules. Anyways, Arun was at the movie theater at 3:00pm and she was nowhere to be found... 3:30, nothing... 4:15, nothing... 5:00, nothing... around 5:15 she shows up. Come to find out, the only reason she showed up is because her roommate forced her out of the dorm to meet with him. When she saw him standing there 2 hours and 15 minutes later, she realized how he cared for her, and the rest is history. Unfortunately, she died 4 months before their 50th wedding anniversary
Seriously, one of the coolest experience of my life.
My main question to you guys is, what do you think about his views on affirmative action and how to deal with anger?