Professor Sharon

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Gandhi and Greenfield Community College

October 29th, 2008 · No Comments · Important People, Musings, Uncategorized

Today I spent a wonderful hour in the company of GCC students; some members of the Human Services Club (I think, either that or the Peace & Justice Program), the others were students in a song-writing class. They had put together a program to honor Gandhi’s birthday. (They made note that it was past his birthday but that they had used the time well to prepare, write songs and practice.)


It was breathtaking and awe inspiring. I always find joy in music and especially in the skill and beauty of young people performing. Four students individually played their protest songs. In between these shared songs were small groups of other students who held posters of Gandhi’s writings and teachings while they read quotes and explained his life and his work. The only thing I wished for was personal reflections (but then that’s always of interest to me – I like to hear how people reflect and weave into their own lives the lives and works of others.)

As we were waiting for the event to begin, I was reflecting with the two people beside me what was our favorite Gandhi quote. I came home to find mine:

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”

– One of the last notes left behind by Gandhi in 1948, expressing his deepest social thought.

Source: Mahatma Gandhi [Last Phase, Vol. II (1958), P. 65]

As we face a most historic and important Presidential vote in our country (no matter which candidate wins, there is history in the making), what can Gandhi give to our lives to inform both our vote and our response to the results on the next day? How will these students use this experience to inform their lives as they go forward on their journey – or will they?


Gandhi, my grandmother, these students and so many others in my life have given me the opportunity to understand and be reminded that peace is possible. It is with me each day in small and large ways. These students carry forward the work necessary to ensure all peoples around the world have what they need; in their small and valuable piece of the world Gandhi’s work continues. This is a hard and challenging task in the face of the cost of filling our gas tasks, our home fuel tanks, and our refrigerators.

I thank these students for their reminder that it is in everyone of us to create peace. I thank these students for filling my heart today.


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