Minister’s Reflection – Oct. 4/19 – Rev. Dave Crawford
“There is no way to peace, peace is the way” – Gandhi.
With much of our collective attention these days devoted to election campaign activities and perhaps U.S. “whistleblowers”, I was happy to be distracted by a special anniversary two days ago. October 2nd marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas Karamchand (or Mahatma) Gandhi. In honour of this special date, Scotland unveiled a new statue of the famous Indian lawyer, anticolonial nationalist, and non-violent activist, who led his nation to independence from British rule in 1947. The statue is located in Ayr (nearby church unknown).
The anniversary naturally got me thinking about one of my all-time favourite movies, Richard Attenborough’s 1982 movie “Gandhi”. Just 18 years old at the time, I truly had no idea what I was in for when I entered the old North Hill Cinema in Calgary, with its huge screen and surround sound, to see this epic, educational bio-pic, winner of 8 Oscars. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. Ben Kingsley is the actor who brilliantly portrayed Gandhi. As I’ve mentioned before the movie had a lasting impression on me. I was inspired, and still in my better moments am inspired, by Gandhi’s relentless insistence on non-violent resistance to injustice, his dedication to respectful disagreement, and his religiously motivated, ethical principles enacted, adhered to, throughout his adult life. Later in life I had the chance to read Gandhi’s autobiography, and have a copy in my office. An amazing human being, utterly dedicated to causes greater than his own life.
What about our own era? Where are the Gandhis, Mother Teresas, and Martin Luther Kings of our time? People who strive to serve a higher calling in life without great investment in personal betterment. Those who take a stand for great moral principles despite potential costs. Perhaps it’s difficult in 2019 to find the likes of those who garnered the attention of humanity in prior times due to their greatness, or it may depend on our perspective I suppose. It does often seem, however, that moral heroes are lacking, particularly in the realm of politics, particularly in uncertain times morally and otherwise. Yet perhaps more important than lamenting a perceived hero-deficit in society is the possibility of responding ourselves in significant ways to the grace of God we’ve discovered in Christianity’s core gospel message. Do we heed the teachings of Jesus and seek to enact them in our daily walk? What kind of difference could we make in another’s life by demonstrating mercy, or kindness, or patience, magnanimity, generosity, peace?
Gandhi likely didn’t envision fame as an appropriate life ambition. Likely he simply wanted to seek the good in his own life, according to the Hindu traditions he’d learned. Perhaps we are differently yet similarly called – to seek the good as we have understood in in Christ’s teachings, to seek the kingdom. Food for thought as we make our way through the highs and lows of current politics, and life in general in this often confusing, seemingly ever-changing world.
Grace and Peace.