Gandhi vs. Moses

More of a commentary than anything else, but whatever…

Combining both the current topic of kingdom living (pacifism), a certain article I read (this) and the time of year (Passover)…comes the first ever fight between two national leaders!  In these writings, anyway…  In the blue corner, we have the leader of the Hebrews, Moses!  In the red corner, there’s the founder of the modern nation of India, Mohandas Gandhi!

The two won’t actually fight.  The winner should be obvious, no?  Gandhi’s pacifism would limit his offense.  Even if he were to renounce his nonviolent beliefs, Gandhi’s constant fasting makes him a weak, skinny combatant for a physical confrontation.  Moses, on the other hand, has God in his corner.  Literally.  Moses also has a wicked rod that can turn into a snake when thrown to the ground.  I definitely see an ending similar to the Obi-Wan vs. Vader duel, with Gandhi renouncing his weapon just as Moses deals the coup-de-grace (keep in mind that I am in no way am I implying that Moses is the Dark Lord of the Sith!).  That, or the two coming to a compromise through peaceful means and the fight is canceled.

In all seriousness, however, let’s compare the ideology of the two.  The example of Moses against the philosophy of Gandhi.

Exodus 2 gives us insight into Moses’ character.  The stories in that chapter, to quote, “express a paradigm indispensable to leadership: A leader must have the courage to battle injustice wherever it exists.  In all three instances, Moses is deeply committed to fighting injustice.  He intervenes when a non-Jew oppresses a Jew, when two Jews fight, and when non-Jewish men oppress non-Jewish women.”

“When it is necessary to kill, he is prepared to kill.  When it is sufficient to speak, he suffices with verbal rebuke; when it is necessary to fight, he is prepared to fight.  One who rejects the choice of aggression out of a sense of compassion may be a kind human being, but a wholly inadequate leader, because the long-term violence resulting from a failure to battle evil is far worse than the violence of the battle itself.”

“In modern terms, Moses is politically incorrect.  He does not lecture the Egyptian taskmaster about the cycle of violence or give him a lesson on rage management.  Moses knows that by the time he will complete his lecture, the Hebrew might be dead.  Moses is aware that at times, violence is a moral, though difficult, choice. It saves the lives of the innocent.”

“Prohibiting moral killing guarantees immoral killing.  It is “violence” used by police that stops violent criminals from murdering and hurting innocent people.  There are many innocent men and women alive today solely because someone used violence to save their lives.”

Gandhi, on the other hand, inspired another example.  While Gandhi didn’t invent pacifism, he made it a popular example for the modern man.  However, his ideas are likely to raise an eyebrow or two from most everyone.   For example, Gandhi’s advice to the British during World War II was…

“I would like you to lay down the arms you have which are useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions. Let them take possession…. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.”

He offered a similar message to the Jews suffering persecution in 1930’s Nazi Germany.

If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest Gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance, but would have confidence that in the end the rest were bound to follow my example. If one Jew or all the Jews were to accept the prescription here offered, he or they cannot be worse off than now. And suffering voluntarily undergone will bring them an inner strength and joy [...] the calculated violence of Hitler may even result in a general massacre of the Jews by way of his first answer to the declaration of such hostilities. But if the Jewish mind could be prepared for voluntary suffering, even the massacre I have imagined could be turned into a day of thanksgiving and joy that Jehovah had wrought deliverance of the race even at the hands of the tyrant. For to the God-fearing, death has no terror.

And people wonder why others equate pacifism with inaction, or that pacifism means “surrender”.  Or suicide.  Pacifism might be a wonderful idea for some, but one of my teachers raised the question of, “What would happen if all the world’s Christians, at least 1/3 of the world’s population, renounced violence?”  My answer remains the same as it was then.  In the face of true evil, they would all die in one massive human sacrifice.  The stoniest heart of true evil would not melt away, but become stronger.

I don’t champion the current war our nation is embroiled in or policy our nation has adopted.  Diplomacy and alternatives to fighting should always be considered first.  However, when those alternatives fail or when the opposition refuses to respond to diplomacy, war becomes the only option left.  At those times, war is also the only moral option.  Some people may scoff at the notion that someone has to fight injustice with “injustice”.  However, it’s better to fight injustice with injustice, then not to fight at all.

So dark the con of man.


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