Monday, March 27, 2017

Gandhi, King, Silver Lining

PART 1: Gandhi and the Silver Lining

We finished watching Gandhi last week.  Although we skip a lot, we watch a significant portion.

At the end of the movie, students often ask questions about Gandhi's assassination.  Why was Gandhi assassinated?  Who killed him?  What happened to the man who assassinated Gandhi?

Today we read an article from The Guardian that was published the day after the assassination.  (Read it HERE.)

Gandhi's assassination was similar to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Both were assassinated by extremists within their own religion, because the extremists thought they were giving too much away to "the other."

The partition of India-  (Adults, ask the student you're reading this with if they know what "partition" means.  If not, have them click on the word... You're welcome.) - The partition of India into India and Pakistan was a major blow to Gandhi who wanted a unified India.  And, depending on the sources, there were somewhere between several hundred thousand and two million deaths during/due to the partition alone.  For an old man advocating non-violence, one can imagine how trying it was.

Gandhi had been planning a trip to Pakistan in the name of reconciliation when he was shot.  (It's more complicated than this, involving money owed by governments, the threat of weapons purchased with that money, etc... but this is a blog for 7th graders.  If you're interested in it, research it on your own.)

To the point: I had a thought today that I don't think I'd had before.  While Gandhi's assassination is a tragedy, the silver lining is that it's better that he was killed by a Hindu than by a Muslim, the British, or his own fast.

Throughout the film we kept coming back to the principle that, "the only demons we have to fear are those that lurk in our own hearts."

My guess is had Gandhi gone to Pakistan and been killed by a Muslim, many Hindus would have used it as pretext to fight.  Or even if he had died on his own during the fast.  -Or earlier killed by the British in prison or such.

That Gandhi was killed by a Hindu precluded the possibility of  the Hindus taking revenge on themselves.  And it appeals to Gandhi's broader message for individuals to "be the change."

PART 2: King

A couple weeks ago, Mr. Krecsmar asked me if I realized it was the anniversary of MLK's march from Selma to Montgomery.  I did not.

Many students draw parallels between the lives of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.  They were both fighting for civil rights.  They both endorsed nonviolence.  They both fought racism and ethnocentrism.  They were both unjustly imprisoned.  They both practiced civil disobedience.  They were both assassinated.

The Selma marches occurred in March of 1965, and were mainly over voting rights.  The tactics used by King mirrored that of Gandhi.  Those used by Alabama State Troopers mirrored the British.

Here's a clip of the actual Selma footage:

Here's a brief (1:12 minute) interview with Ava DuVernay, who directed the movie Selma:

This is a short promo for Selma which includes parts of the bridge scene:

And last, this is a clip from "Turn-Around Tuesday" - not to be confused with "Bloody Sunday":

I hope you took the time to watch one or two of the videos.  Keep in mind that this was in our United States, and only a little more than 50 years ago.  Some of you have parents who are over 50.  Most of their parents are over 50.  My point is, we're watching Gandhi and thinking about what happened long ago in a land far away...

If you read and discussed this blog with an adult, I'm hoping the adult asked you some questions about it.  To get the extra credit, write at least 5 sentences.  Maybe tell me whether you agree with my "silver lining" comment.  Compare what you saw in the Selma clips to what you saw in Gandhi.

When you wrote at least 5 sentences about your conversation, have the adult you read the blog with sign the paper.  Turn it in tomorrow in the extra credit tray.  Make sure your name, date, and hour are on it.

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