Saturday, November 08, 2008

Learnings from El Che and The Mahatma

El Che (Ernesto 'Che' Guevara)
[Source: The Motorcycle Diaries, Harper Perennial ]

{Told by the old man in the last chapter}
"The future belongs to the people and gradually, or in one strike, they will take power, here and in every country.

The terrible thing is, the people need to be educated , and this they cannot do without taking power, only after. They can only learn at the cost of their own mistakes, which will be very serious and will cost many innocent lives. Or perhaps not, maybe those lives will not have been innocent because they will have committed the huge sin against nature: meaning a lack of ability to adapt. All of them, those unable to adapt - you and I for example - will die cursing the power they helped, through great sacrifice, to create.

Revolution is impersonal; it will take their lives, even utilizing their memory as an example or as an instrument for domesticating the youth who follow them. My sin is greater because, I, more astute and with greater experience, call it what you like, will die knowing that my sacrifice stems only from an inflexibility symbolizing our rotten civilization, which is crumbling. I also know - and this wont alter the course of history or your personal view of me - that you will die with a clenched fist and tense jaw, the epitome of hatred and struggle, because you are not a symbol (some inanimate example) but a genuine member of the society to be destroyed; the spirit of the beehive speaks through you and motivates your action. You are as useful as I am, but you are not aware of how useful your contribution is to the society that sacrifices you."

The Mahatma (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)
[Source: India of my Dreams, Navjivan Publishing House]
"Civilization, in the real sense of the term, consists not in the multiplication, but in the deliberate and voluntary restriction of wants, which promotes real happiness and contentment and increases the capacity for service."

[Source: Harijan, 3rd June 1939]
"Suppose I have come by a fair amount of wealth either by way of legacy, or by means of trade and industry, I must know that all that wealth does not belong to me, what belongs to me is the right to an honourable livelihood no better than enjoyed by millions of others. The rest of my wealth belongs to the community and must be used for the welfare of the community."

[Source: Harijan 1st February 1942]
"Man falls for the pursuit of the ideal of plain living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. History gives ample proof of this.
Man's happiness really lies in contentment. He who is discontented, however much he possesses, becomes a slave of his desires. And there is no slavery equal to that of the desires."

Hence, in conclusion, both El Che and The Mahatma:
  1. Believed that Capitalism just meant the rich getting richer, whereas true civilisation, means everyone getting their fair meal.
  2. Believed in turning themselves, into contributions for the society at large.

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