Arun Gandhi Dialogue with Boundary Peace Initiative Part 2

Part 2 of my interview with Laura Savinkoff of Boundary Peace Initiative “BPI” (part 1 HERE and part 3 HERE)

3.   BPI: In general do you have any suggestions for the global peace movement so that it might be more effective in its resistance to the rise in economic imperialism with its continuing military oppression of ‘service or supply’ areas, the erosion or, in some places, total disregard for human rights and civil liberties, the takeover of nations and/or regions for exploitation by financial super powers and its economic “development” and wealth reallocation that often ignores the basic, human needs of the many, valuing them solely as another ‘resource’ for their productive/purchasing capacities?

MK Gandhi Painting in Ahmedabad

Painting of Bapu in Ahmedabad

Since our goals in life are negative, becoming successful by any means possible, it brings forth the worst in humanity.  We even tell our children to be successful in life (and success is measured in material terms) and get to the top by any means possible.  The first seeds of greed, selfishness and exploitation are planted in little minds.  Peace can become possible only when we collectively decide that materialism is not the ultimate goal in life and that we are not individual islands that can survive on our own, that we will bring about the “Change we wish to see in the world.”

We must recognize that the destiny of every individual is linked to the destiny of the human population and that the security of any nation is dependent on the security of the whole world.  It is only when this realization dawns on us that we will be willing to share with and ensure that every individual in every part of the world has the possibility of living a decent life.  Obviously it means that the developed nations would have to scale down their standard of living so that collectively we can scale up the standard of living of those who languish today.  If we refuse to do this then we are set on a course of self destruction.  Just as ancient civilizations perished because of their arrogance and selfishness this civilization too will perish the same way.

4.   BPI: How would you approach improved recognition and satisfaction of the right of all people to live in a state of dignified well-being with reasonable stability, to be assured of access to creative fulfilling work, to adequate, nutritious food and healthy, productive soil, to clean water and air, to primary health-care and expansive education (not just exploitable knowledge and skill-sets) and finally, to secure and appropriate shelter?

Arun Gandhi:  I have answered the question in part in the previous answer.  However, it is important to remember when a wise man said: “We get the government we deserve”, he knew what he was talking about. We blame the government and big industry for all the ills of society and yet both the government and the industry say they are simply doing what the people want them to do.  In the recession that currently affects much of the developed world there is a hue and cry that there are not enough jobs and that prices of essential commodities are going up.  Yet, I have not read of a single starvation death. Do we know, or even recognize the fact, that more than half the world is grossly malnourished and even die of starvation?  Individually and collectively it is our responsibility to change the world one person at a time, to change our governments one vote at a time and to change ourselves one day at a time.  In Portland, Oregon, when I spoke to a middle school about children in other countries who could not find food or education they asked What can we do?  I suggested that they consider saving collectively half of their pocket money and create a fund.  Some 200 children did just that plus had bake sales and T-shirt sales and raised $4000.  We need to do much more of this if we want to save the world from disaster.  But in doing so we need to have the humility to listen to the poor and honor their opinions.  The tendency is for us to go to the poor countries with a blue print of what WE think they should have.  It is not always right.  It is not even right for the educated elite in that country to assume they know what the poor people need.  Development and education has to be tailored to suit their needs so that they can use the education to create an infrastructure of their own.  The education that is imparted in developing countries is based on the western model to train people to fulfill the needs of expanding industries and bureaucracies.

This uproots the people of rural areas from their home bases to move into the city and compete with far more advanced job seekers.  They become disillusioned and forever remain in a limbo.

5.   BPI: What, in your view, has led to the significant increase in global (and local) wealth-disparity, where many are materially impoverished, where some perish from want while others live in relative extravagance and waste, hoard an excessive portion of the world’s resources and frequently exercise little regard in how they acquire it?  Could efforts of moderation and voluntary simplicity help to eliminate such incommensurate disparity and sustain the planet’s limited resources?  How might these be promoted?

Arun Gandhi: This is already addressed.

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To be continued in part three

Comments

  1. Sylvester P. Kelley says:

    A central premise of the should that the size, growth, age structure and rural-urban distribution of a country’s population have a critical impact on its development prospects and on the living standards of the poor. Poverty is multidimensional: impoverished people are deprived of services, resources and opportunities, as well as income.

  2. Johanna Rivas says:

    Standard of living is generally measured by standards such as real (i.e. inflation adjusted) income per person and poverty rate . Other measures such as access and quality of health care, income growth inequality , Disposable Energy (people’s disposable income’s ability to buy energy) and educational standards are also used. Examples are access to certain goods (such as number of refrigerators per 1000 people), or measures of health such as life expectancy. It is the ease by which people living in a time or place are able to satisfy their needs and/or wants.