On Tuesday, Oct. 11, Union students and staff had the opportunity to hear Arun Gandhi, speak during chapel as part of the annual Leadership Symposium. Arun is the fifth grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, and he continues to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps as an activist.
Oct. 11 resulted in one of fullest chapels of the semester. The pews of College View Church were filled with students and staff both eager to listen to Ghandi.
Arun began by briefly describing the time he spent living with his grandfather in India and how he observed his nonviolent approach to achieving change. Early in his talk he stated, “What I want to do this morning is to show you that grandfather [Mohandas Gandhi] was not born great.” He stressed that we aren’t perfect, but we must try to change our weakness into strength. We can't go through our lives ignoring our weaknesses and focusing only on our strengths.
“We need to be humble, we need to have the humility in us to have that ability to achieve great things to help people,” Arun said.
Arun shared the advice that his grandfather gave, “Every morning when you get up, you tell yourself you’re going to be a better person today than you were yesterday.” He advised we make a list of what we believe to be our weaknesses and think about how we can turn them into strengths.
Arun concluded his talk with a warning about our lifestyle that has become dependent on “the culture of violence.” “It’s passive violence that fuels the fire of physical violence,” he shared. He emphasized that it’s by becoming aware and putting a stop to the passive violence that we can achieve a peace where we can all live together in harmony.
The week before Arun’s visit, Professor Chris Blake organized an evening event to view clips of the award-winning film, “Gandhi,” and have a discussion following the movie. The evening began with a brief rundown of who Gandhi was and the significance of what he has done for India. Gandhi’s activist beginning, death and views on religion and equality were observed during the movie and discussed between scenes.
The evening was concluded with a discussion of how Gandhi’s actions and teachings apply to us today. “Love transcends differences and actually appreciates them,” said Blake. Gandhi’s actions go against what we usually think we should do and this allowed him to effectively promote equality peacefully.
In sum, Arun’s presence on campus sought to remind the campus how we can’t change who we are overnight or even in a year, but that by working on one or two of our weaknesses each day, we can become better people. Some of these weaknesses of ours can take our entire lifetime to change into strengths, but it is these changes we make in ourselves that can help to create change for others.
If you missed Arun’s talk, you can watch it archived on UCLive at: livestream.com/uclive/arungandhi
Amanda McCarter is a sophomore studying biomedical science