Ghandi’s children: The Occupy Movement

I was watching a really good discussion on PBS between Richard Heffner and Howard Gardner. The subject was Gardner’s book “On Truth, Beauty and Goodness”.

Towards the end of the interview Gardner comes out with a bold statement that Gandhi was the most influential figure of the last millennium.

He justifies this statement by saying that Gandhi’s influence can be seen in so many movements that came after him and in particular the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s led by Dr Martin Luther King Junior.

This morning I woke up to the pictures of UC Davis and the treatment of peaceful protestors by Police. It reminded me so much of the scenes I witnessed in the 1960’s when the world saw student unrest and demonstrations in North America and Europe.

I became involved in a peaceful occupation of the Registry building at my University, Warwick, during my time there as a Politics student. I remember that we all sat huddled together in one of the offices when word got around that the Police were about to evict us following a court order that the University Administration had received.

Our leading light and chief administrator came around and stated that we were not to show any violence and that we would walk out with our heads held high. I remember the feeling of fear that I had that I would come out to a scene of violence against us and some of us may get badly injured.

In the event it was a peaceful eviction. We walked out of the building and past the massed ranks of the police who were armed and ready for conflict. We returned to our student accommodation or the bars in the Union Building.

That was 1975 and seems a world away from the scenes of UC Davis yesterday. But in many ways it is an example of how Gandhi and King’s ideas have spread throughout the years. We were not going to be violent in our small scale occupation of 1975 because we wanted to show the world the reaction and brutality of a status quo in fear of losing their power.

Gandhi defied the British by walking to the sea and gathering salt. At Amritsar the protesters did not fight as their heads were cracked by a vicious attack. Dr King walked with his followers from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama despite the violence of what has become known as “Bloody Sunday“.

Both Gandhi’s non-violent opposition and King’s “Civil Rights Movement” led to change. The “Occupy Movement” is growing and has now spread across the globe.When you look at the students sitting and waiting for the force of authority to possibly attack and maim them remember that they are the latest in a long line of people who have followed the teachings of Gandhi and who know that they may be pepper sprayed like the UC Davis protesters but they will bring about change. They are, in a very real sense, the children of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Junior.

About malbell

I am a retired Teaching and Learning Consultant. Previously I was a Primary school headteacher and deputy headteacher. I enjoy reading, doing MOOCs and learning new things.
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