Increasing violence and intolerance has made the principle of non-violence in thought and deed more relevant than ever. Here's how you can guide your child to follow in Gandhiji's footsteps.
By Varsha Venkatesh
After school, 13-year-old Arun was walking back home carrying his meagre belongings — a notebook, a writing pad and a short 3-inch pencil.
Arun's pencil had whittled down to almost a stub and he wasn't comfortable writing with it. So, he thought that he would request his grandfather to give him a new pencil. Arun was so confident that grandpa would grant his request that he tossed his old pencil by the roadside.
Later that evening, when Arun asked his grandpa for a new pencil, he was unprepared for what happened next. Instead of giving him a new pencil, his grandfather began questioning him: "What happened to the pencil you were using? Where did you discard it?"
Afterwards, his grandfather ordered Arun to go out and look for the pencil he had thrown away and bring it back. Grandpa's behaviour left Arun puzzled. He couldn't understand why grandpa was making such a fuss over a pencil!
“You must be joking! You don’t expect me to go out and look for a pencil in the dark, do you?” Arun exclaimed.
“Oh yes I do, and here’s a flashlight,” said grandpa in a firm, yet loving, manner. It took Arun quite some time to find the pencil stub he had so carelessly tossed away.
That boy is none other than Mr Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. He narrated this incident to tell us about the lessons he learned while living with his grandfather...
Lesson #1: Violence against nature
It takes a lot of natural resources to produce even something as simple and readily available as a pencil. And, when we throw things away without utilising them to the maximum, we waste the world's precious natural resources. This is violence against nature.
Lesson #2: Violence against humanity
The affluent can afford to buy everything they need, stock up and, consume more than they should. Over-consumption of resources by a few deprives others of the same. This is violence against humanity.
Violence is not just about causing physical hurt, it is also about being wasteful and insensitive to the needs of others. Therefore, the principle of non-violence should be instilled in every individual right from an early age.
Till now, we have discussed violence borne out of acts committed without paying much thought to the consequences. However, violence can also be an expression of anger. While anger is not necessarily a negative emotion, it’s important to understand and channelise it in order to get fruitful results. This is often difficult to do, which is why anger is often destructive.
Gandhiji offered two suggestions on how to cope with anger and practise non-violence:
Today, more than ever, we need to celebrate Gandhi Jayanthi and tell our children about the Father of our Nation. But, let us also consciously teach our little ones about his principle of non-violence which the world so badly needs today.
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