Recently I was invited to a meeting organized by the African American community in San Francisco, California. The meeting was meant to discuss how the community can support five local residents who were then on a hunger strike to protest against the prevailing social injustice and violence in the city. I was humbled when these five people showed me Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography that they were carrying with them and shared that he was their inspiration. At that community meeting I heard, Mrs. Gwedolyn Woods speak about of the social injustice and violence that her son Mario had been subjected to. Her sharing touched my heart. I was profoundly disturbed that day. I noted that I was the only person of Indian origin amongst a room full of African Americans that day. The next day, over dinner, I shared my experience of being at this community meeting with my childhood friends who are all successful tech executives living in the Bay Area for over two decades. I was even more surprised (or disturbed rather) when I saw the apathy from them towards what I was sharing. It struck me that day that unless a problem or issue “directly” relates to us, we, as a society have become so immune that we will not go out and do something about it.
The reason I was invited to the community meeting in San Francisco was because just a few weeks prior, I had led a delegation of Americans (who had suffered from violence) on apilgrimage to India to find solace and healing. We had followed the intent behind the trip taken by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1959 when he had visited India to deepen his understanding of the teachings of nonviolence of Mahatma Gandhi. I am producing a documentary film from their experience that would capture the story of their transformation.
I have never done anything like this before – so the challenge excites and overwhelms me at times. What unfolded during the India trip was truly magical. The trip convinced me that India (its people, culture and heritage) has the power to provide solace to those who have been the victims of senseless violence. It also has the power to transform our way of thinking and inspire us to choose love over fear and hatred and that ‘an eye for an eye’ is not the solution to end systemic violence.
If this project inspires you, please donate and support the post production of the documentary film (donations are tax deductible in USA). If you wish to support non-financially with your time and skills, please so reach out.
You will agree that if the whole world is a home, India is the prayer room – for reflection and transformation. As the senseless violence continues, especially in America, we need more prayers than ever before to restore hope and harmony in America. I dream that very soon:
- India will rise to the occasion knowing that the world needs its gift of peace more than ever before!
- As the torch bearers of the great culture of India, we, Indians will get involved in our community and act as catalysts for enabling greater happiness, peace, love, harmony and nonviolence in the towns where we live or even at our place of work!
We only need to feel proud of our Indian culture and dare to imagine. I know that we can do it.
If not us, who will…?
Arise O India! Arise my dear Indian sisters and brothers
About the Author: Mandar is the founder of Media Rise – a social enterprise to inspire the creation and consumption of meaningful media. Until recently, he managed Shell’s social innovation program and is the winner of Ashoka League of Intrapreneurs. For more about him, please visit his website.