Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, he was later called in affection, Mahatma which means “Great Soul”. All things considered, he was a pretty cool dude that lived and died for what he believed. Specifically – for what he held as truth. I’ve always had admiration for such souls – even those I’ve had great ideological, philosophical and religious differences with. I don’t mean the man that runs into a crowd and blows himself up – asserting their love for their god or religion. Ironically, I can think of no greater coward than those carrying out such mindless, pointless demonstrations of destruction. The motivations of most stemming from bent ideas of what gains await them in the afterlife. Specifically because of their violence and even bizarre pseudo-life insurance, whereby arrangements are agreed upon that the bomber’s family will be taken care of after their death.
“A principle is the expression of perfection and as imperfect beings like us cannot practice perfection, we devise every moment limits of its compromise in practice.” – Mahatma Gandhi
This applies nowhere better than to our approach to determining truth. We too often want truth on our terms. Have it fit what we desire – our perspective. Truth simply is. From gravity to grumpiness. Both are forces that can pull us down if conditions are right. Saying they don’t exist because of course “all truth is relative” (right?) will have us fighting these non-existent forces as we step off that cliff, begin to plummet quickly towards earth below, and subsequently get grumpy about our skewed views of gravity; and the grumps. Without truth, we cannot grow. Genuine advancement can only proceed upon the sure foundation of truth.
“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because no one sees it.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I remember saying to a friend’s astonishment once, that although I most likely had more surface commonalities (politically, ideologically, etc) with Rush Limbaugh, I had vastly more respect for Malcolm X. Mind you, Malcolm embraced at times ideas and beliefs that were nothing short of lunacy. Beliefs involving race and species that literally made various human beings (white populous) the lineage of demons and the like. However, this was all taught to him as he emerged from his past of caring very little. Thus, a very astute mind came to life with a ravenous appetite to learn and grow, as it was being filled with garbage by those he trusted to offer truth. What those that fed him didn’t consider was that Malcolm’s appetite was for truth and not religion – and his very astute mind would lead him to move away from this lunacy with time. Ultimately, at the cost of his own life by those that had been feeding him.
Malcolm looked to encounter truth and did what few have the courage to do. He admitted he was wrong where truth demonstrated it. Even admitting he was wrong about whites as truth demonstrated his error. Sadly, many whites remain oblivious to this fact. Malcolm believed all white people were inherently evil. Products of evil lineage, as taught to him by Black Muslim leaders of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. He noted many white, blonde blue eyed Muslims praying and worshiping the same God as dark, brown eyed Muslims. He deduced he had been wrong about whites and voiced this change of view, along with new beliefs that greater peace and harmony could be found between whites and blacks. He was summarily executed for this by members of the Nation of Islam. Malcolm was like all men in that he possessed ego. But the conviction his change of view represents for embracing truth is extremely rare.
I consider Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King our greatest Americans. By that, I mean to say I believe they have done and sacrificed more to further our nation, based on the foundational ideas of all men being created equal – with certain inalienable rights endowed them by their creator; our creator. Mr. Lincoln occupies the number 1 spot – but Mr. King is a solid second. You can’t give more than everything. Many have given their lives to protect and better our nation but few have lived the majority of and subsequently laid down lives, in this effort; and fewer still in such deeply impacting ways. I can think of no one that gave more, in accomplishing more than Mr. Lincoln. And he did so in an atmosphere of very little support by a profoundly thankless nation. What these men gave, they gave in belief of truth. Thoughtful, deeply examined and carefully weighed truth. Truth that went against much in the way of popular opinion.
Which brings me back to Gandhi. He too, was like all men. He also had an ego. He is loved the world over and held as an icon of peace. What many don’t know is that his killer (Nathuram Godse) was no madman. Right or wrong – he too, was a man of deep conviction. At his trial he spoke for several hours explaining in great detail his reasons for killing Gandhi. He shared motivations stemming from his own love for his fellow people. Believing Gandhi had become increasingly given to allowing his fellow countrymen to be slaughtered and brutalized. Exhibiting a more self-indulgent [almost] petulance if he didn’t get his way politically. In light of Mr. Godse’s statement, the presiding judge at this trial commented:
“The highlight of the appeal before us was the discourse delivered by Nathuram Godse in his defense. He spoke for several hours discussing in the first instance the facts of the case and then the motive, which had prompted him to take Mahatma Gandhi’s life. The audience was visibly and audibly moved. There was a deep silence when he ceased speaking. Many women were in tears and men coughing and searching for their handkerchiefs. The silence was accentuated and made deeper by the sound of an occasional subdued sniff or a muffled cough. I have however, no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by an over-whelming majority.”– Justice Khosla
It is common for human beings to look with such admiration, upon souls such as Gandhi and believe they possess wisdom they perhaps, do not. In truth, any great soul possessing wonder in wisdom will also possess great shortcomings. Obstacles to complete comprehension or capacity to balance all. The best example of this is probably King Solomon; of whom God said no one was ever wiser. Yet even a cursory review of his life will demonstrate great wisdom and monumental stupidity. To match humility and intellect and ability and purpose such that ego nor dysfunction can interfere has only been represented once, among humanity. His name is Jesus. Jesus so often gets a bad rap. Typically because of how he is represented from the mouths and lives of those professing to be his followers. Most having little idea of who he is or what he even said. What he did and said were startling. Gandhi as a non-professing Christian said of Jesus;
“He was a man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.” – Mahatma Gandhi
C.S. Lewis said, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Jesus: That they are ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but not accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God; but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
Determining truth can be tricky. Truth is often like some of my posts – annoyingly long and complicated and not so fun to sort through. Yet, we each have the responsibility to dig through all credible evidence. That means often digging through garbage to determine credibility. There are no shortcuts in determining truth. It is hard and often tedious work, and it is imperative we do our respective best to uncover it. If it hints at being credible, we are obligated to examine it for possible validity. The truth of Christ is of most importance – specifically for the claims he made. If he was crazy … or lying … then there was no good in him at all. If he was telling the truth, it means we each must call him Lord – recognizing that in doing so, we are acknowledging our need for his forgiveness of our sins – and that he is the only source of such forgiveness. It is purported that Gandhi said, “we must become the change we want to see.” Unfortunately, if we recognize Jesus for who he claimed to be, we realize we cannot become the change we want to see on our own – and it is arrogance and futility to imagine we might. We don’t go to Jesus for any fluffy since of faith.
“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” – C.S. Lewis
We go to Jesus to change. To submit to his Lordship that we might become the change we wish to see. That we would become the change, he desires to see. We go to Jesus in pursuit of truth.
John 14:6 (NIV) – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus said he is the way, the truth and the life. Not ‘one of many’ or even ‘one of few’ possible paths to truth. Jesus said he is the only path to God. I am confident most misinterpret that. Jesus is the only conduit between God and man. Thus, the only path of spiritual truth and the only solution for genuine change of any meaning. The last few sentences merit much in the way of greater explanation and exploration but I will leave it for now.
“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Matthew 11:12 (NIV) – From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
To embrace the truth of Christ takes courage. It is not for the weak or timid. Following Christ in this walk of change requires complete commitment to truth and submission to same. But it is the only way we as individuals or as a society will ever see the change he wants to see in our lives. All other efforts are shortcuts that omit the needed substance for real change – Jesus. Thus, they will each ultimately and necessarily fail.