Featured speaker Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, delivered an address to more than 700 people on Tuesday, October 31 in Hayes Auditorium as the featured speaker during Pathways to Peace Week at Lees-McRae. The week-long series sponsored by the College’s Global Community Center, highlighted speakers and programs on topics of non-violence, peacemaking, and breaking down barriers between people and cultures.
Mr. Gandhi shared life lessons learned from his grandfather and grandmother. Gandhi stated the philosophy of non-violence that he adopted from those lessons involves channeling anger into positive energy and actions through non-violent solutions. A change in culture from violence to non-violence needs to take place, and can only be done when individuals decide to make changes in their own behavior, including understanding their own violence. He stressed the building of relationships has a foundation of four principals; respect, acceptance, understanding and love.
Gandhi also shared interesting and troublesome statistics regarding disparities between the United States and the rest of the world: we consume 25% of the world’s resources while representing only 3% of its population; an American needs to work 6 minutes to earn enough money to buy a loaf of bread, a laborer in a 3rd world country needs to work 20 hours to buy that same loaf of bread; an American woman needs to work 20 hours to earn the money needed to purchase a cotton dress, whereas a woman working in a 3rd world country must work 440 hours to earn the money to buy that dress. Following his address, Mr. Gandhi conducted a question and answer session for the students, faculty, staff, and community members in attendance.
While on campus, Gandhi also participated in several events with students, including a breakfast with the Honors Scholars and the official opening of the Global Community Center at Lees-McRae. Mr. Gandhi, along with activist Herb Walters and noted scholar Dr. Stephen Haynes, was a panelist in a forum entitled, “Breaking Down the Barriers that Separate Us.” Lees-McRae president Dr. David Bushman stated, “Lees-McRae College is honored to have Mr. Gandhi on campus to engage our community in dialogue and to challenge us all to transcend the bounds of our own particular time, place, and culture. His presence on our campus illustrates our commitment to serving our students and to preparing them for lives of meaning and purpose.”