The Moral Leadership of Mahatma Gandhi

Earlier I wrote about thought leadership. I recently re-read some writings by Mahatma Gandhi which reminded me of the power of leadership when that leadership is underpinned by an idea.

It is beyond my skills, knowledge and wisdom to comment on the thinking, life, and actions of a man such as Mahatma Gandhi. But I wanted to share the inspiration and moral courage I obtain whenever I read what he wrote and consider what he did. Here is one example:

The true meaning of non-resistance has often been misunderstood or even distorted. It never implies that a nonviolent man should bend before the violence of an aggressor. While not returning the latter’s violence by violence, he should refuse to submit to the latter’s illegitimate demand even to the point of death. That is the true meaning of nonresistance….

He is not to return violence by violence, but neutralize it by withholding one’s hand and, at the same time, refusing to submit to the demand. This is the only civilized way of going on in the world. Any other course can only lead to a race for armaments interspersed by periods of peace which is by necessity and brought about by exhaustion, when preparations would be going on for violence of a superior order. Peace through superior violence inevitably leads to the atom bomb and all that it stands for. It is the complete negation of nonviolence and of democracy which is not possible without the former. (Harijan: (1933-1956) English weekly journal founded by Gandhi and published under the auspices of the Harijan Sevak Sangh, Poona, and from 1942, by the Navajivan Trust, Ahmedabad., 30-3-1947, pp85-86).

My aim is not to show that Gandhi was “right” or “wrong,” but simply that he could exert leadership of millions with simple ideas and acts.



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