Role Model: Mahatma Gandhi
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Mahatma Gandhi was an amazing and hugely influential figure in history. He is renowned for his beliefs and teachings in regards to civil rights, religion, education, non-violence, and the list goes on. In this analysis I will attempt to relate Gandhi’s principles to my own, grounded in the faith and teachings of Jesus Christ. In doing so I will discuss three over-arching topics specifically: social issues, money/career, and the nature of God.
A huge topic that must be continually dealt with in our world is the topic of social issues, and within that category I believe education is one of, if not the single most important. Gandhi had some very specific views on education. It was his belief that all people, regardless of circumstances or social standing, had a right to basic education. The term for the education system Gandhi promoted is Nai Talim – which translates to “basic education for all”. Deeper than simply advocating education for all however, Gandhi proposed a total overhaul of the education system, in direct contrast to the British Imperialistic system that was in place at the time in that area of the world. Gandhi’s focus was on teaching practical and basic skills which could be useful at the community and village level. This is where I somewhat disagree with Gandhi’s view.
I certainly see the historical reasoning for Gandhi to propose this kind of system in India; however I believe that in our world today his system is not superior to the development of highly specialized skills, beyond basic and practical skills. That small disagreement aside, Gandhi’s overall view on education does mirror my own. Education is a basic human right, and everyone should be granted this right. I believe that today more specialized education is needed than Gandhi advocated for, but our principles are completely aligned, and Gandhi’s over-arching ideas on education as a social issue can and should still be held today. As Damm (2005) states,… Who has never imagined that he could be a role model for the whole world? I think that it is a dream, a desire of every human being to leave a legacy for humanity. By choosing a hero, you have the opportunity to not only realize something indirectly, but above all, to share your opinions, even if you have never met your hero.
A hero allows you to express an ideal either because of his physical appearance, his talent or his influence in the world. I think it is difficult to say that people will have only one hero in their lifetime because, in time, they may change their mind and notice that what this person embodies is no longer what is the most important to them. So, I would like to present my “current hero,” Mahatma Gandhi. I don’t really remember how I discovered him. At first, I was very intrigued by him because I couldn’t imagine how he managed to obtain the independence of India using non-violence, while a lot of other countries resorted to war. That is why I read articles about him. By reading his biography and comparing it to the social situation nowadays, I realized that his speech still has its place. For example, he fought against discrimination, but always on legal grounds. Indeed, he studied in England and became a lawyer. To achieve India’s independence, Gandhi knew that he would not manage it with violence, so he decided to educate Indians to help them become better citizens.
Here we can see that he is a man with convictions and that, in spite of his social rank and his several journeys abroad, Gandhi never forgot his country and gave the population the benefit of his knowledge. That is why I find him brave and persevering, which are important qualities. Gandhi was a supporter of non-violence. He knew that Indians weren’t as strong as the British armies. If they wanted to get their independence, they would have to show the English people that they didn’t need them. Gandhi’s most significant success came in 1930 when he challenged the British government by saying that he would personally defy the Salt Tax if it was not rescinded within the following ten days. This action showed how he felt involved. From that day on, he became a real icon because he brought people together from very different social ranks. admire Gandhi for all that he did and the risks that he took. He was jailed many times. He was also a precursor when he defended women’s rights, and it is mainly thanks to him that women have an important social and political role in India.
The only thing that he didn’t manage to avoid is the civil war between Muslims in Pakistan and Hindus in India. Can non-violence prevent the world from religious wars? I don’t really know, but it is an alternative to armies. Many world leaders, including Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, have successfully employed Gandhi’s technique of non-violence to achieve extraordinary success in their own political struggles. That is why I can say that Gandhi is not only a real role model for me, but for the world. Mother Teresa was an incredible individual that showed the world many things about religion, love and compassion for mankind. She gave in service to the lord, glorifying God in her life and in her career taking care of the less unfortunate. To understand Mother Teresa’s worldview, a person would have to look at her beliefs in God, the social issues she addressed to her country, and her dedication in helping the poor and the terminally ill.
God was incorporated into Mother Teresa’s life at a very young age; she came from a strong family background of the Catholic faith. Her relationship with God dominated her life. At one point in her life she thought that the only way to have a relationship with God was to join a monastery and be closed off from the world. She became very disciplined in seeking God, and everything she did in her life revolved around God.
She found prayer to be essential in her life and spent many hours in prayer communicating with God. There are accounts where she did withhold from prayer due to the fact she thought her sins were too great and she felt afraid to pray. She always repented for her sins by going to confession and felt she was unworthy of God, and in her later years she felt cut off from him. She struggled deeply with her faith during those times, yet remained faithful to God. Her concept of God and mine differ in the fact that she had more knowledge of his teachings and incorporated his teachings for a longer period of time, where as I am just discovering who God is and what he stands for and my Christian worldview is still evolving.
I lack the knowledge of God and I am just now seeking him in my life. Mother Teresa’s view of developing a relationship with God and mine contrast. I do not feel ones need to be cut off from society to have God in my life, although I do agree with her on the importance of incorporating prayer and repenting sin. I find prayer to be a very important aspect of having an intimate relationship with God. I believe Mother Teresa is a great advocate for seeking God, and following his teachings. I have great respect for her discipline (Allison, Martin, Peers, Teresa, 2007).
Mother Teresa brought great awareness not only to the people but to many countries on the concerns with the poor and terminally ill. Some thought she brought great shame to her country in exposing the conditions of the poor. She brought the equation of love and compassion to the world, causing people to take a closer look at themselves and how they treat one another. I believe her faith in God gave her the courage to bring such awareness, during those very difficult times. She is an incredible role model to follow in helping others and her strong beliefs in God. By her actions alone, people started to reach out and help the needy who were in distress instead of ignoring the problems they faced (Fox, Martin, 1994, 2007).
In working with the ill, Mother Teresa had very high standards. She thought one should live as the poor to be able to assist them more efficiently; this way the people who aided the poor would be on equal terms. She was very stern with her practices and with the nuns who assisted her. The nuns, who assisted Mother Teresa with the poor and ill, had no medical background, they served the ill with love and compassion. They did simple services such as the changing of bandages, giving food and aided with prayer. Many people came to her while they were in dire need, when other hospitals turned them away. Occasionally, a doctor would call in to see if they could help, but most of the care given was love and compassion. The remarkable thing is that many people did get better and were able to leave. My view contrasts with hers in the fact that I do not feel ones need to live like the poor to understand them or work with them (Fox 1994).
Mother Teresa’s worldview and my own worldview contrast on some issues but the discrepancies are small if you look at the broader picture. I admire her for her belief in God and working with the poor. She brought great awareness to many people about God, the poor, and many social issues. Some people say she was a saint, some say she was a celebrity and then some say she did things for her own benefit. I find Mother Teresa to be a very interesting individual and people could learn many things from her. She has set a great example to many people on the issues of God, and prayer and reaching outside one’s self to help others. She was so giving in nature, and sought no praise for herself in her workings; the only thing she wanted was for God to love her. She was completely dedicated to God, and everything she did was to bring glory to him.