World needs peace and lessons on service
We live in historic times. On the one hand, the economy is struggling to recover and problems of unemployment loom large.
At another level, wars and destruction continue to plague communities in several pockets of the world. The importance of building global communities via service and friendship has never seemed more relevant.
The celebration of Martin Luther King Day on January 17, is a reminder that violence is not the solution to our problems. President Obama has suggested that we use this day to come together in the spirit of service. It is a befitting tribute to the values and beliefs of Dr. King, whose life embodies the spirit of service.
Indeed, Dr. King’s life was marked by service at a time when service called for action, but more importantly when service required courageous action. It was a time when service to your fellow man called for defiance of unjust laws, challenging the status quo and going to prison to protest injustice.
The Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1956 that ended segregation on the city’s buses was the first step in a peaceful revolution that King led; it culminated in what has come to be known as the American Civil Rights Movement. Change is always difficult, especially when it has to do with changing mindsets. This is exactly what Dr. King accomplished.
What made this truly revolutionary was the peaceful and non-violent method used to transform peoples’ thinking. Changing mindsets using peaceful methods was not a new concept. It had been used in another country, with different context, and in an earlier time period. In the 1940s, halfway across the globe from where Dr. King lived, the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi brought the mighty British Empire to its knees using non-violent protests, boycotts and strikes. Gandhi referred to this as Satyagraha, or truth-force. Dr. King referred to this as soul-force and mentions in his autobiography, “Gandhi was the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.”
In today’s world, where war and destruction are mistakenly justified as leading to a higher cause, we need to bring back the ideals that Dr. King and Gandhi stood for. Much can be accomplished via persuasion rather than coercion, education rather than force, and global co-operation rather than parochial separation.
Latha Ramchand is a Professor of Finance and the Associate Dean at the C.T. Bauer College of Business.