Gandhi Had Many Faces
Gandhi has been one of my go-to idols since I can remember first reading about him. While engaged in this 100 days of trance project, I’ve learned that not all of our heroes were heroic at every moment of their lives. Gandhi is no different. But in this project, I’m interested in his skills. Skills at negotiation, second/third position thinking and his level of commitment to achieve his goals non-violently.
Action hero stories and movies are the American way. The wayward hero who doesn’t follow the rules. Ultimately, the hero wins because his balls were bigger than anyone else’s and he was very lucky or both. I was seeking a different example. But again, FAIL. Gandhi had HUGE balls and apparently, followed nobody’s rules.
Gandhi 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian activist who was the leader of the Indian independence movement against British rule. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world.
Born and raised in a Hindu merchant caste family in coastal Gujarat, India. He trained in law at the Inner Temple, London. Gandhi first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organizing peasants, farmers, and urban laborers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for various social causes and for achieving Swaraj or self-rule. (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi)
Connecting with Gandhi seemed more difficult than usual. Again, it could be that hero worship thing. He finally shows up and I’m getting nothing. I had to re-start and this time is get more information concerning the emotions that motivated, Gandhi. His adventures in South Africa had taught him that you cannot do a frontal attack against a superior force and expect to survive. He channeled that knowledge into action the rest of his life.
His strategy was to empathize with both the victim and the aggressor. If required humiliate his opponent by not fighting and sometimes taking a horrible beating in the process. Well-educated (lawyer, duh) but also very clever and insightful. His ability to step into the mind of his opponents was his super-power. The short version is he figured out what their pain was. He then either solved it or cranked up the pain until the opponent had to change his strategy. Once the opponent is changing his strategy, the game is over. Forcing someone to play your game is the key.
There is a story of Gandhi being kicked off a train in South Africa as a young lawyer. His crime, not being white. I think that he wished to right that wrong but also never let anyone else have that experience. The ability to empathize with people including your adversary is a skill worth developing. Again it’s the perceptual position thinking.
I have never felt that level of courage and commitment. Imagine a situation. You know you are going to get beat up, possibly jailed or killed; then you show up every day anyway because you know you can’t lose even if you are dead. I’m interested in stepping into this persona and truly identifying with it.
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