Friday, July 29, 2016

"Going To Motive"

Do you think Gandhi would have followed the path of “Passive Resistance” if the Mahatma had had muscles?

I know what you’re thinking:

“I’ve wondered about that myself.”

“Not once.”

Yeah, right.  You see this super-skinny guy – models called him for diet tips.  You know what he told them?  “You have to care passionately about India.”  He adopts a method of confrontation involving no physical engagement whatsoever.  And it never occurs to you, even for a second, “Did the idea of ‘Passive Resistance’ randomly come to him?  Or was it appealing because he does not have any muscles?

“I never thought about that.”

That’s odd. 

“I don’t know anyone who ever thought about that.”

So it’s just me.

“It’s just you.”

Okayyyyy, if you say so.  Though I can’t help wondering if you are disavowing such natural ruminations because they never occurred to you, or because they did occur to you but you are unwilling to fess up to them.

“I never thought about it.”



Well, it is something I wonder about – the relationship between who you are and what you believe.  The evidence here is hardly determinative.  I mean, Gandhi’s not the only guy to try “Passive Resistance.”  And neither of us have proof that either Jesus or Socrates would have qualified for to the “Wall of Fame” at “Gold’s Gym.” 

Sculptures accuracy can be problematic.  (A CONTEMPORARY:  “That’s Plato?  Are you kidding me?”)  And, though I only read it once, I recall no citation in the New Testament involving Jesus’s height, weight or cumulative muscle mass.  Dr. King looked like he could go a few rounds, but he could be the exception that proves the rule.  Or he just knew the odds against taking on “The Man.”

I could be as simple as that.  The Mahatma and the other non-combatants, evaluating the overwhelming opposition marshaled against them, determined that the best way to defeat them was not to fight but to not fight, opting instead for non-violent demonstration.

By the way, were Gandhi’s “sit-down” strikes their favored method of protest because the protesters believed in their effectiveness or because they were terribly exhausted?  They hadn’t eaten for a long time.  Maybe they simply needed to sit down.  Nitpicky?  Perhaps.  But I like to know the actual reasons for things.

“What’s your point, Mister?”

My point is, we don’t really know.  We honor people for their heroic actions.  But are those actions equally heroic when there is nothing else they can do?

“We shall persuade the English to leave India with reasonable argument.”

“We tried that.  They said ‘No.’”

“Then we shall climb into our airplanes and bomb them into oblivion.”

“No airplanes.  No bombs.”

“Oh, right.  (BEAT)  So what do we do?”

“We sit down someplace inconvenient for them and we refuse to budge until they give us back our own country.”

I know – it worked.  But does your approach really deserve credit when you have no viable alternative?

“This is annoying.”

Is it annoying because it’s ridiculous?  Or because I have unearthed an uncomfortable question meriting serious consideration?

“It’s annoying because it’s stupid.”


“No matter why the ‘Passive Resistance’ strategy was selected…

So you’re not denying it could be muscular deficiency.

“… the plan of confronting overwhelming odds, unarmed, and with a looming likelihood of annihilation is indisputably courageous.”

I’m not saying it wasn’t.  But is it equally courageous when your other options are zero?  The ship’s sinking.  Two choices:  You can jump.  Or you can grab one of those deck chairs which are sliding all over the place but are finally available.   There are no “two choices.”  You jump.  Was it courageous?  What else could you do?

Notwithstanding the fact that they won – which is really cool – the question remains:  Why did Gandhi decide to fight that way?  And would that non-violent approach ever have come to Gandhi’s attention if the revered liberator of India could personally bench-press four hundred pounds?  Did that decision, in fact, emanate from principle?  Or was it biology?

“You’re a good talker.”

Thank you.  It is my preferred mode of communication.

“I see.  The question is, is it your preferred mode of communication because talking is better than fighting, or is it because you yourself have no muscles?”

Which is exactly what I am working on. 


Did I fool you at all with the fake-out “Ghandi” analogy?

“Not for a second.”

Oh well.  At least you didn’t hit me.

“Believe me, I was thinking about it.”


It’s a good question.

“No it isn’t.”


Yes it is.


Jes said...

You and your mighty pen, Earl.

PJ said...

Depending on which source is believed, Gandhi was 5'3"/5'5". With a heartier diet and some weight training, he certainly could've been more muscular but I doubt he could've whipped the British occupying army. I recall that both King and Mandela were admirers of his. He did lead quite a life!