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‘Anger is like electricity’

Published: October 26, 2007
Section: News


Chrissy Callahan: What do you feel is the significance of spreading your message to todays youth in particular?

Arun Gandhi: Youth in the past didnt have [the] opportunities we do today in terms of media and communication, so its easier now and young people have more potential to truly take positive action and spread the message to a mass audience.

CC: How does it feel to see such a great turnout and to see that so many young people are in attendance today, eager to spread this message?

AG: I feel very happy that theyre taking this important stepand I hope that this will grow and expandand we can then come together in the thousands.

CC: Does being here today and addressing such an important message have any extra significance to you because your grandfather was such a pioneer in the movement for nonviolent resistance?

AG: Yeah, it was significant because grandfather was really concerned about peace and we are all concerned about peace and we have to work towards creating that peace. And Id also like people to remember that peace is something that we have to build beginning with ourselves. If [we] are not at peace within ourselves, we cant create peace in the world. So we have to live that peace, we have to create it within ourselves and then help people around us create peace and live peace and that is how it will spread around the world. But if we expect that peace will come from elsewhere, and fall into our laps, then that is not going to happen.

CC: What was one of the most important things that your grandfather taught you that you would like to share with Brandeis students in particular?

AG: I think one of the most important lessons of all the lessons that I learned was about understanding anger and being able to channel that energy into positive action. You know, we all get angry and since we have not learned how to react to that anger, we generally abuse anger and cause death and destruction. And grandfather told me that anger is like electricity. Its just as powerful and just as useful as electrical energy is, but only if we use it intelligently. But it can be just as deadly and destructive if we abuse it. So just as we channel electrical energy and bring it into our lives and use it for the good of humanity, we must learn to channel anger in the same way so that we can use that energy for the good of humanity rather than cause death and destruction. He suggested writing an anger journal, but writing the journal with the intention of finding a solution to the problem, and then committing oneself to finding a solution. Today a lot of people do write an anger journal, but they simply pour their anger out into the journal so when they go back and read it, they are just reminded of the incident and they become angry all over again. So its very important that you write the journal with the intention of finding a solution, and commit [yourself] to finding a solution. I did this for many years, and I must say it helped me considerably in learning how to channel anger into positive action. And I think if we attempt to do that, we will find that we can reduce violence in our personal lives as well as in our public life very substantially.

CC: If there were one small act that Brandeis students could take to better become peaceful people, what would you suggest they do?

AG: I would suggest that they create peace and harmony on the campus between different ethnic groups that you have on the campus. And you can reach out and create a peaceful community on the campus, even if its for four years. You have to begin there, and then it will become a habit. And then everywhere you go, you will be able to create that kind of peace around you.

CC: What is the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of spreading the peaceful message?

AG: I think the rewarding aspect is that we will be ultimately able to gain peace and not have all this strife and violence, and things to deal with. And I think that will be the reward of creating peace and harmonythe challenge is to create that kind of an atmosphere, which means making personal sacrifices, personal commitments, and doing it diligently. You know, its not like snapping your fingers it takes a lot of commitment and dedication.

CC: In your speech, you discussed the different ways we label people and assign them false identities. Im currently enrolled in a writing seminar on violence and we recently read an essay by Amartya Sen which talked about how the way we assign identities to each other and put people into boxes stifles your identity and causes you to be more likely to perform violent acts. Would you say that this is one of the main causes or roots of violence?

AG: I would say its very important with violence and our interrelating and getting along with each other and if we brand everybody and compartmentalize them and dehumanize then [violence will ensue.]