Friday, March 28, 2014

Gandhi, Snowden, and DWB

I'm sorry to have been gone the past couple days, but that's just the chaos of life, I suppose.

Imagine with me that what is happening in Gandhi is now.  How do the British view him?  Is he a hero?  Is he a terrorist?  It seems like most of the British view him as a terrorist; some kind of threat - at least to the empire.  He claims no less - he openly admits that he believes the British Empire to be evil, and that he wants India to be governed by Indians.  But should this - nonviolent noncooperation against evil - be considered terroristic? ...Maybe it is too much of a jump, because now I'm asking you to presuppose that the British Empire is evil - and most British - at the time - would have disagreed.

And there's a scene where Gandhi had just documented much evil the British were perpetuating against the Indians: forcing them to work without pay, denying them water, raising rent on the starving in order to finance hunting expeditions, etc...  ...And the one British man says to the governor, "You've turned him into some kind of hero.  Back home children are writing essays about him."

I'm getting to my point: whenever/whatever we're studying and learning, we each bring out own thoughts to the process.  And I couldn't help but think of something/someone we'd studied about not too long ago.  Did you make this connection too?...  Edward Snowden.

The British in the 1930s and 40s were having the same discussions about Gandhi that we're having about Snowden today.  Is he a hero?  Is he a terrorist?  Is he a traitor?  And whatever he is, what does that make me?  If he's a hero, does that make me/us wrong?  And how should I as a person respond?  How should we as a nation respond?

Education is all about making connections.  We do this in Language Arts when we read - we insert ourselves into the book.  When the actions of the protagonist remind us of the times we've quarreled with our brother.  The time we had to make a sacrifice we didn't feel like we could make.

Here's another connection I made in Gandhi: remember that scene where the British tell him to leave, or they'll arrest him?

Gandhi asks about the charge.  He says, "I'm an Indian travelling in my own country, I see no reason for trouble."  ...Essentially Gandhi was saying he was about to be put under arrest for being an Indian in India.  Here's the connection I made:

Maybe you're unfamiliar with the term DWB.  It refers to real (or perceived) instances of racial profiling: Driving While Black.  The issues we are struggling with at our point in history, here in the United States, are the same issues with which previous generations have had to deal.  In the past (maybe this year) questions have arisen over the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the laws in Arizona where police could ask for immigration papers even if the driver hadn't broken any laws, the stop and frisk policy in New York.

Today, I'm not writing about whether any of these events or policies in our own culture are good or evil, right or wrong; I'm only saying that everything should be viewed through the lens of history.  Neither am I saying that these events are the same and therefore interchangeable: they're not.

But it would benefit us to look at their similarities, and their outcomes.  Who was the moral force in the past?  How has history judged each side?  What does that teach us about ourselves and who we want to be?

If you're reading this for extra credit, discuss it with an adult and then write a 3 or 4 sentence response.  Do you think the historical connections and similarities that I made are valid? If you can think of any other connections between Gandhi or the Indian independence movement and our own culture, please include them.

Have the adult sign the paper, and turn it in on Monday.

If you happened across this blog some other way, feel free to leave a comment.  (Students, you may always leave comments on here as well.)

1 comment:

  1. "I'm an Indian traveling in my own country, I see no reason for trouble." Still love that line. Bold defiance shrouded by polite logic.
    ~ Jinnah