Gandhi in Virginia Tech
Perhaps, Cho Seung Hui was annoyed with his colleagues in Virginia Tech. His feeling was so intense that he gunned down 30 innocent people in Norris Hall after pumping a minimum of three bullets in each victim’s body. He did not forget to chain shut a door to the building from the inside before he fired more than 100 bullets at them within a half an hour. He was on mission to take revenge. Everybody was his enemy. It was a naked display of vengeance.
Exactly one week after the massacre, on the day classes resumed at Virginia Tech thousands of students & faculty gathered in the center of the campus to pay solemn tribute to the victims of the massacre. An antique 850-pound brass bell installed on a limestone rostrum tolled soothingly giving moral & emotional strength to thousands of grief-stricken students & faculty. Thirty three white balloons were released into the air in the memory of 32 victims and the gunman, Cho Seung Hui. On the campus lawn rose a semi-circle of 33 chunks of locally quarried limestone to remember each of the dead. Someone lighted a purple candle at Cho’s stone, along with a soliloquy in laminated letters:
“Cho, you greatly underestimated our strength, courage and compassion. You have broken our hearts, but you have not broken our spirits. We are stronger and prouder than ever. Erin J.”
The unspoken mind reflections of the writer, Erin J., were manifested in these laminated letters. For Erin J., Cho who killed 32 innocent people ruthlessly was not an enemy. He not merely had a certain attitude of detached sympathy towards Cho, but also was denying the very existence of an enemy. It was the complete denial of the vengeance. The evil was not met with evil but with good. In Virginia Tech campus, consciously or unconsciously Gandhi’s doctrine of non-violence has been used to meet with the violence. Gandhi was made alive in campus by the organizers. Perhaps Gandhi smiled on that day, because someone has used his doctrine of non-violence after a long lull since 1960 when a charismatic civil rights leader Martin Luther King used it in a campaign against the segregation of Blacks.
The word non-violence literally means non-injury, or, more narrowly, non-killing, and, more widely, harmlessness, the renunciation of the will to kill and of the intention to hurt any living thing, abstention from hostile thought, word and act. Gandhi linked his concept of non-violence to the idea of non-attachment and freedom from hatred, pride and anger. Gandhi declared that the complete non-violence is complete absence of ill-will, that active non-violence is goodwill towards all life that non-violence in this sense is a perfect state and the goal toward which mankind moves naturally though unconsciously.
Total non-violence is a state of soul and mind. It may ultimately be identical with divine love, the sense of oneness with all, that belongs to the great prophets and mystics. But in its immediate and daily application it must be distinguished from the feeling of love and from benevolence as well as from the mere hatred of violence. Gandhi wanted the acceptance of non-violence to imply a deliberate stand against ill-will, a method of action based upon self-restraint. Non-violence is not a resignation from all real fighting against wickedness, but a more active fight against wickedness than retaliation which, by its very nature increases wickedness. Non-violence, as Gandhi saw it, actually presupposes the ability to strike. Besides, it is a conscious & deliberate restraint put upon one’s desire for vengeance. Non-violence is intended and expected to convert rather than coerce the wrong-doer, however slightly and slowly. Another important ingredient in non-violence is the notion of “self-suffering”, a refusal to submit to injustice, and acceptance of personal discomfort and tribulations.
Non-violence is important not just as a desirable virtue or merely as the means for the purification and ennobling of the soul but even more as the fundamental and perhaps the only way in which we can express our respect for the innate worth of any human being. It is essential and universal obligation without which we would cease to be human.
Thanks Nugroho, would love to have others comment as well, love
I have forgotten to cite the source of my story entitled "Gandhi in Virginia Tech" . In fact, I have written this story when that unfortunate incident had happened in the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia, United States on Monday, April 16, 2007. I did not send that story for publication as I wanted to write more on the message that the story gives to us. ( I am afraid that the present form still requires lot of modifications.)
Therefore I can mention that source of the story is "Unpublished work of Rajendra Shelke".