The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday December 2nd

Gandhi's Grandson Stresses Nonviolence

Arun Gandhi spoke Wednesday to more than 500 people about the importance of peaceful responses to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Speaking from the steps of South Building, Gandhi said following his grandfather's advice was especially important after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "I have never felt the need to understand Grandfather's philosophy more than I have in these past three weeks," Gandhi said.

Gandhi's speech was organized by the Campus Y, the Division of Student Affairs, Sangam -- the South Asian awareness organization -- and the James M. Johnston Center for Undergraduate Excellence and was meant to be a part of UNC's continuing response to last month's terrorist attacks.

After noticing the amount of anger in the country, Gandhi, the head of the Mohandas K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence in Memphis, Tenn., drafted an essay on the merits of a peaceful response to stifle alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden and his followers. Gandhi said media outlets refused to publish his essay because they said that now is not the time to discuss nonviolence.

In his essay, which is published on the institute's Web site, Gandhi explains that killing the perpetrators of this attack will only enrage future attackers. "We must acknowledge our role in helping to create monsters in the world, find ways to contain these monsters without hurting more innocent people and then redefine our role in the world," the article reads.

Gandhi shared stories of growing up in South Africa, where he said he was ostracized by both blacks and whites because he fit neither racial mold. He became angry and felt the only answer was revenge. His parents sent him to live with his famous grandfather in India, where he learned other forms of response.

America is experiencing similar circumstances, Gandhi said. He said that while an impulsive response seems appropriate now, it will most likely not yield the intended results. "Once a thing is done, it's done," he said. "We can't take it back."

Freshman Shikha Bhan said she attended because Mahatma Gandhi was key in establishing freedom for India, where her cultural roots lie. "(Today's speech) was so inspiring," she said. "(Arun Gandhi) made it seem like nonviolence really can work."

Gandhi encouraged people to spread their message to others. "If an individual has found peace, locking it up in one's heart is meaningless," Gandhi said. "But if he spreads it around and allows it to interact with the elements, it will accomplish much."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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