Saturday, February 23, 2008

Spreading Gandhi's way

January 30th, 2008 was the 60th anniversary of Gandhi's assassination. I attended the Congress 2008 in Wardha, India at the Institute for Gandhi Studies. Wardha is near the Sevagram Ashram, Gandhi's last ashram initiated in 1936. Wardha has Gandhi sites: other ashrams, research institutes to support village life, Kadhi (homespun cloth) production workplaces. For four days I visited them with Congress attendees. Here, a way of life is in progress consistent with Gandhi values and principles. Gandhi's vision built on the lifestyle developed over the centuries in India's 700,000 villages. It was a way of life centered on dignified living for everyone--and a sustainable way of life. Now, the principles of appropriate technology are being fostered incorporating the work of E.F. Shoemacher. In Wardha a person can discover the compliment to corporate and global economy.

I knew Dr. R.B. Chavan from my last trip to India. Now retired from his university position instructing in Khadi, he works for Jamnalal Bajaj Central Research Institute, (MGIRI), Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Ministry of Micro And Medium Enterprises (Gov. of India.) I took a day to be with him to visit his workplace. Here I had a personal tour led by Dr. Chavan and the Director, Keshav Kamble, to see each step in the production of Khadi, including the experimenting in colors and fabric methods. The production methods are then made available to the villages for villagers to produce and sell for their own sustenance. Individual vendors are common in India providing a rich variety of services and products. This research center also develops herb products, medicines, and pottery for villagers use. The pottery was beautiful. I came home with the possibility of initiating a similar development and training center here in the United States. Anyone interested in spearheading such an endeavor? Training is available in Wardha.

The Congress itself was organized by parties in France and from the Institute. The event was truly international with representatives from every continent except Australia. I shared a room with a young man from Cameron, an Austrian, and a Frenchman. Our conversations were rich because we could share stories and customs from each country. Claude, the Cameron member, wants to bring nonviolence to his homeland. He has had training in dispute resolution and is passionate in his concern about the violence there. He has asked me and others for support, especially money. I gave him a large picture of Martin Luther King Jr. standing with arms folded in a room with a photo of Gandhi on the wall. This moved him. (I received the picture among several other significant items from Dr. Savita Singh, Director of Gandhi Samriti, Darshan Samiti, the site of Gandhi's assassination in New Delhi.)

I will cover the next phase of the Congress visit, the Congress itself, at the next post.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Fifty Days in India

I am back in the United States after 50 days in India. First, I regret not being able to make more posts on this blog because there were many experiences worth sharing. Due to traveling in many rural areas and to the intensity of the schedule, internet use was very limited. Often when the internet was available, the electricity was off. This is common in India. To distribute electricity each location has the supply turned off for several hours a day. Second, I will use the next set of blog entrys to recap certain experiences or insights.

During the trip I attended four conferences and made one meditation retreat, plus visiting several locations of interest and portraying Gandhi in the conferences and/or locations. No wonder I am slow to recover from return jet lag! An earlier blog describes something of the 6th International Confernece on Peace and Nonviolent Action. Now, I am communicating with organizers from ANUVBHA to share insights about follow through. The second conference was the 2008 Gandhi Congress in Wardha on January 25th to 31st. I received the addresses of the 125 attendees from all the continents except Australia today. This was a very rich experience due to local resources and the Congress itself. More later.

The Third event was the World 2008 Youth Peace Congress in Pune where I brought The American Gandhi presence to address the assembly. A previous blog presents my written address. I stand by its contents. The urgent message is a huge frustration for me because people nod "yes", but nothing seems to happen. This Congress was most unusual for me because of its well healed religious content and setting. More later.

Finally, I attended the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace Convention in Nagpur. Here, I was down home with the academic activists. Well researched papers and presentations about nuclear issues and about peace issues, especially the Middle East, were presented. Here, the setting was very grassroots. More later.

I needed to buy another suitcase to bring home all the books, literature, and gifts for portraying. I will never be able to read everything. Most are good additions to the library for reference.

Perhaps most important are the new contacts and relationships in peace making. I am very edified by so many people who are committed to justice and peace, to Gandhi nonviolence, to truth. I think they are having the effect upon me, raising to the next level. I am not sure what form that will take, but it may be some kind of organizing presence in India.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Message to Youth of the World

Jan. 31, 2008
By Bernie Meyer
The American Gandhi


Look at who you are; youth of the world. 500 and more of you have come to Gandhi peace congress for thought and action for peace. Peoples of the world live together. Be aware of who you are.
How many of you want to be Satygrahis? How many want to cling to the truth? How many want to stand for truth? How many want to live with non-violence-love-Ahimsa? How many of you are already to be warriors for truth? Gandhi said “in non-violence courage is in dying, not in killing”

Today, the world faces unthinkable problems; global climate change, water and energy exhaustion, nuclear war, terrorism. These are call to mobilize, a call to join together to face the storm of 21st Century. Mobilize for the life on earth, Mobilize for the life on earth. Survival itself. How many here want to be Satyagrahis?

I speak to you as the American Gandhi. In 2005 I came and was invited to India to bring the message of the historic Gandhi, the father of India. Gandhi’s way is Satyagraha, Ahimsa, Tapasya, non-violent way to live truth for all people. Gandhi’s way made India independent from the United Kingdom. In 2005 they called me the “American Gandhi” Now in 2008 I bring Gandhi’s vision and message to climate change, water and fuel loss, nuclear weapons and terrorism. This is the world of your generation, this world of my generation.

We have a choice. First choice, live business as usual approach, seek career in business. Second choice, live and face problems to change the world. Crisis problems. There is no time to spare. We must change climate change, we must not exhaust resources, and we must end war with weapons of mass destruction. The earth is giving us warning. The scientists are given us warning.

When Gandhi was 23, your age, he faced the choice. When he was thrown off the train in Pietremuritzburg in South Africa for not sitting in the third class train cabin, he sat outside on rail road platform in cold mountain town, freezing all night. He thought “How could a human being treat another in this way?” “What should I do? Return to India or fight for the rights of Indians in South Africa” When he met Indians they said “Gandhi, put up with this treatment. We do. We make money in this way” Gandhi made a choice. Gandhi decided to stay in South Africa to fight for the rights of Indians. Look where it led him. He went in 1893 to South Africa dressed as an English lawyer with the frock coat, creased black pants, shining black shoes. He wanted Indians to be like English in 1893. He found the non-violent way of war on September 11, 1906, Satyagraha, Ahimsa, Tapasya. He left South Africa in traditional Indian clothing in 1915. Gandhi found his Indian voice in South Africa. At age 54 in 1923 he put on the Dhoti and Shawl, dress of the masses of India. In this way he led all Indians to independence. He is the Father of India. He showed the entire world the way of non-violence. Gandhi said on the day of his assassination “Non-violence is stronger than any weapon. If humanity does not end the atom bomb I do not think the human species can last.” Gandhi also said “Non-violence is the first article of my creed, the last article of my faith.”
Now in 2008 all youth have a choice. And all people have a choice. Change the way humans live, stop climate change, stop wasting air, water resources, stop killing, end war. Or risk being thrown off the earth like Gandhi was thrown off the train. If we risk being thrown off the earth, it will be too late to make the choice.
The United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change is warning us that life on earth is at risk. We must make haste. Lester Brown from Earth Policy Institute has written the book, Plan B 3.(http://www/ We can change the situation if we act now with urgency. Here is what Luster Brown says, See Website!

You, do not accept my word, seek your own truth. Many experts say the same thing as Brown says “Search the truth thyself.” Budha “Make your own choice”.
I made my choice, as the American Gandhi on September 10, 2006, 100th anniversary of Gandhi’s 1906 non-violent equivalent of war. I led a Salt Walk in Olympia Washington “ We must be the salt of the earth, salt of the air, salt of the water,” We must save earth for life.

In the summer 2007 I walked as the American Gandhi over 700 miles from Glasgow Scotland to London England, May 29 – August 6, 2007. My message is; change from nuclear weapons to saving the earth. With others your ages I was arrested in Scotland at Faslane Trident submarine base where nuclear weapons are. Also we were arrested in England at Aldermaston Atomic Weapon’s Establishment. I have been arrested many times since 1969 to end war and killing.
I ask you again, how many of you want to be Satyagrahis? In Gandhi’s words I want you “To become the change you want to see.” Gandhi also said “The earth has enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.” Now we may not have enough for everyone’s need.

Think about these realities. Gandhi Youth Conference 2008 will give you understanding and other information.
Suggestion, take 6 months off from business as usual. Experiment for 6 months and do three things,

1. Discipline yourself in non-violence- train your minds to control your passions and bodies. Perceive truth. Learn Ahimsa discipline for Tapasya. Prepare to be Satyagrahis with Swaraj. Non-violence of the strong. Only those who have the non-violence of the strong will survive in situations of chaos and violence.
2. Study Brown’s Plan B 3 and other analysis at this conference. Make your own plans and your own analysis. End climate change, save earth resources and end war.
3. Act-mobilize youth of India and youth of other nations.

In three months; tell nations of the world to stop business as usual and begin urgent action. Tell nations of world you are committed to save the earth.

In six months, if the nations do not listen, begin Satyagraha campaign – non-cooperation with business as usual, non-cooperation with business as usual, non-cooperation with business as usual This simple three point plan is urgent. No time to waste. If the youth and adults of the world agree, they will join you. Reach out to them, mobilize them. I will be with you.
If humanity lives like ‘Business as usual”, nature will end business as usual.

Why should youth lead?
1. Your world- your future
2. You have energy and vigor – fresh and young.
3. Adults are numb - stiff with fear. Stiff with self interest in business as usual. Stuck.
4. Like 1930 Salt March, English laughed – what can Gandhi do with Salt? But 10’s of thousands made salt and were arrested, some gave their lives and died.

Now we will see what youth can do.
You have choice:- business as usual or face problems – save life on earth.

I leave you with the question.

How many want to live the way of Satyagrahi?