Born in Gujarat in western India in 1869, Gandhi’s life journey was phenomenal by any standard. He went from a suited-booted English trained barrister to the Mahatma, one of the 20th century’s most extraordinary figures. He challenged the mighty British Empire not with guns but with civil disobedience and nonviolence. Today his name is ritually invoked by politicians, particularly in India, but do his ideas really matter? Do they resonate in the 21st century? The U.S. is threatening war on Iran. Any attack will further inflame a region already burning. Instead of military maneuvers, ultimatums, sanctions and bellicose language where can Washington and Tehran find common ground? Can plain Gandhian advice, “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding” defuse tensions and lead to dialogue and conflict resolution? What is the role of nonviolence is an increasingly violent world?
Ramin Jahanbegloo is an Iranian-Canadian political philosopher. He was arrested and imprisoned by Iranian authorities in 2006. He was released after much international pressure. He is professor and Noor-York Chair in Islamic Studies at York University. He is the author of The Clash of Intolerances, Democracy in Iran and The Gandhian Moment.