Monthly Archives: August 2020

Shaking the world gently

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Where there is a lot of fear, there will be increased anger and violence and Gandhi is suggesting that instead of anger and violence, we learn to shake the world GENTLY. His satyagraha movement in India was sometimes labeled civil disobedience but to Gandhi it was using “truth force” or “soul force” to set the world right. The sanskrit work satyagraha actually translates as truth force and Gandhi insisted that nothing else works so quickly or so effectively in overcoming evil or untruth.

The covid-19 epidemic has spawned fear worldwide in a manner that has seldom been seen before, perhaps never on such a global scale. So whether you believe it is just a bad flu or a plague that will leave few untouched in some way, it has definitely changed the way governments work and the way business is conducted and the way that people interact.

Some have told me that it has brought people closer together, especially families in a way not experienced before. They have enjoyed the less crowded highways and the absence of large gatherings and having more family time at home. Others have felt even more isolated and apprehensive about their futures. There have certainly been job losses and financial stresses for many. I certainly do not want to discount the seriousness of the situation.

I do have a few suggestions based on the life of the Mahatma as to how to gently shake the world in ways to reduce the fear and violence and to move forward in these uncertain times. Actually, I think that all times are uncertain whether we see the uncertainty or not.

Gandhi emphasized the importance of courage in facing the enemy and in this case it is not an occupying force but a pandemic caused by a microscopic virus that wants to consume the world. We are now aware more than ever of how our actions can affect those around us–family, friends, co-workers and even strangers on the street. We can infect others without knowing that we are infected and we can become infected by touching surfaces where the virus resides and then transferring the virus to our mouth or nose or eyes.

The preventive measures are well known: avoiding crowds, social distancing, wearing a mask in public places, washing our hands and keeping our environment clean. But beyond that what is needed in these tumultuous times? Gandhi would tell us, “Full effort is full victory.” So extra effort is required at this time.

Isaiah has counseled us to “impart thy bread to the hungry” and the promise is that “thy light shall break forth as the morning”. Isaiah 58:6-12 goes into great detail about watching out for those who are experiencing the greatest need and the additional promises associated with doing that. I have it memorized so I can review these passages often when I feel like the darkness is creeping in.

When the Dalai Llama was asked how to improve the world i.e. shake it gently, he suggested that we need to smile more. Mother Teresa said, “Peace begins with a smile.” When Gandhi was asked the secret to his success he said, “My life is an indivisible whole and all my activities run into one another, and they all have their rise in my insatiable love for mankind.”

And according to Paul in I Corrinthians 13, “charity never faileth”. In some versions of the New Testament it is translated as “Love never faileth”.

The challenge at this time and it applies to any time is to “absorb whatever comes to us with kindness, calmness, courage and compassion.” The men and women throughout history who have been able to do this have all made a contribution by “shaking the world gently.”