When Arun Gandhi was a boy, he lived and worked with his grandfather, the legendary civil rights leader Mohandas K. Gandhi. On Saturday, he traveled to Bakersfield to spread the seeds of the lessons he learned across the city.
“I have come here this morning to give you the grain of peace I got from my grandfather,” Arun Gandhi said to the audience of Cal State Bakersfield’s Doré Theatre on Saturday morning.
He hoped each and every one of the audience members would take what they had learned and use it to reduce violence throughout the city and the world.
“His philosophy was about family,” he said of his grandfather, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1948. “He wanted to bring back family into a world that was filled with hate.”
Given that Arun Gandhi earned a standing ovation before and after he spoke, many in the audience appeared to take his words to heart.
Arun Gandhi spoke at the 15th annual Kegley Institute of Ethics Fall Lecture. He spoke with Nipun Mehta, founder of ServiceSpace.org, an incubator of projects that support gift culture.
Mehta spoke of “Gandhi 3.0,” or how Gandhi would have responded to the complex problems faced by the world today.
“This is a dream morning for me,” CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said before the talk. “Gandhi is still helping to make the world a better place. He is our touchstone.”
Gandhi was a civil rights leader active from around the beginning of the 20th century to his death, whose philosophy of nonviolence led to the end of British rule in India in 1947.
Today, many people remember him for his contribution to India as well as a phrase that is often associated with him, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Which, as Mehta pointed out, isn’t exactly what Gandhi said, but comes pretty close.
Mehta’s personal plea to the audience was that they would pay one small act of kindness forward, creating a wave of peace and love that overtakes the globe.
Mehta’s restaurant, Karma Kitchen, functions in much the way he hoped members of the audience would act. When diners are presented with a check after their meals, they are told a person ahead of them has paid for it, and are asked if they would like to pay for the meal of the next person to dine.
The system works remarkably well, Mehta says, and sometimes leads to changes in perspective.
By spreading kindness to one another, the two speakers hope more and more people can be the change they hope to see.