I was reading a book on Gandhi recently and it sparked up a conversation with another friend who hates Gandhi. He says how much of a hypocrite he was. So I wanted to know why he thought this about such a loved figure in human history.
My friend began telling me how Gandhi had said all of these nasty things about black people and how he was just a rich kid who decided to become some type of guru and that there is no way he could have actually believed in anything he was teaching or preaching about. This is when I asked him if he had actually read anything on the man?
Of course my friend said yes he had and that is how he learned about all of these things. I then had to ask him if he had read actual books, not just what he found online on someone’s private site.
Some people look at Gandhi as this perfect person who gave great advice and shared wisdom with others. To me I see someone who could not stand the world he was living in and decided to live in this world the way he saw it should be lived. This isn’t hypocrisy, this is changing one’s own life.
Yes, Gandhi grew up in a fairly wealthy family and was expected to be well educated, a working professional and at one time did call people of color bad names. This was how he was raised to be. This is how society was, and still is in many parts of this world. But when he decided to dedicate his life to his beliefs this doesn’t make him a hypocrite, this makes him human. He made mistakes, he admitted them, he wished to learn from them and to create a better life for himself and the rest of the world.
There is a great story about how a reporter came to interview him at his home/shack. Gandhi was taking the goat down to the river for a bath. The reporter asked him to stay so he could be interviewed, Gandhi said “but it is time to wash the goat” and the reporter looked at him with amazement and said something like “but I came all this way to interview you!” And Gandhi simply replied, “thank you, but it is time to wash the goat.”
To him, the goat took just as much of a priority as he did himself. If he didn’t wash the goat it could get sick, stop producing milk and the whole community would suffer. Therefore the goat actually took priority over the interview. It didn’t matter if the whole world would read his words, that could wait for 30 minutes. This couldn’t.
You can call him a hypocrite but I don’t think that fits this situation. People are allowed to change. Should you be held accountable right now for things you said years ago and no longer mean? Especially if you truly apologized for them and said you were wrong? What if it was over half of your life ago? You may even be a completely different person than you were back then. I know I have said things many years ago that I would never say again.
Our lives are full of mistakes, some we regret and hopefully many we learn from. There is one truth, we will all probably make at least one mistake again in our lives, and after that probably another. Mistakes are part of life, some are good some are bad. But they are simply mistakes. Don’t let your own mistakes define who you are, and don’t let the mistakes of others define them. Let their actions now, today be what describe and define them.
Remember, it isn’t our place to judge anyone. Just accept them for who they are and be who we feel we need to be. It doesn’t matter if my friend likes or hates Gandhi, what matters is that we had this open discussion and it has continued on to more philosophical discussions. When we disagree we discuss why we disagree. This is what happens when you allow yourself to make mistakes and move forward from that point on.
I have made more friends in life by listening to their point of view, even when I feel they are wrong, but by listening I can understand where they are coming from. I can understand more of how they feel about any given situation. If you wish to have friends you have to be a friend. Even if you weren’t the best friend in the past, you can still be one today. Mistakes are yesterday’s news, what you do today is what really matters.