Friday, October 2, 2009

Gandhi's Birthday

King's trip to India
Gandhi in glasses
Harriet Tubman

Today, October the 2nd is Gandhi’s birthday. He was born in 1869, Just ten years earlier, in 1859 the United States was in the midst of trying to abolish slavery, and there was a great effort to eliminate the north coast Indian population.

1859 was the period just before the Civil War. A woman by the name of Harriet Tubman was helping slaves escape to Canada, with what was called the Underground Railroad. Tubman, herself an escaped slave, made about a dozen trips from the south to the north with rescued slaves. She lead them through a series of safe places and safe houses until she reached a safe place for the escaped “Negroes” to live. She was able to rescue almost her entire family. To insure that her route, and the people that provided her with safe houses and passages would not be revealed, she carried a pistol in her pocket. Any slave that wanted to return when the going got rough was threatened with her gun. She told them that she would not allow anyone to turn back and reveal their route, and that she would surely kill them if they tried. No one tried, and no one died by her pistol. Now that’s my kind of woman. No peaceful resistance there. It was do it her way or die. In the end nobody will argue with her results, or the methods that she used to achieve them.

The extermination of the American Indian is another story. For the most part they only offered peaceful resistance. A few Indians tried to fight the white man, but they were the first to die. The rest tried to get along peacefully and co-exist with the white man. The rogue white man, and the greedy white thugs, set out to just plain get rid of the Indian. Their excuse was that they were not being protected from the “predations” on their farmland and cattle. They formed groups of “rangers”, and killed the Indian people indiscriminately. The killing was finally stopped by white people with sore consciences. Anonymous letters were written to outside newspapers with the news of the slaughter. The killing was finally stopped by the outrage of the general populace. But few Indian People were left.

It has always been my theory that peaceful protest will only work against peaceful people. Gandhi was only successful, (if you want to call getting people killed during his protest against the British Empire “success”), because he was protesting against peaceful people. That, and India was not worth fighting for. (Sorry, but true)

Dr. Martin Luther King visited India in 1959, and was convinced to try Gandhi's Non-violent resistance in his fight for equal rights for his followers.
"Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation."

Dr. Martin Luther King was wise enough to know that peaceful resistance was a plan that would work in America at the time of his protests. In 1869 he would not have even had a chance to hoist his banner before surely being killed. He was a great and wise man that took advantage of his time and place.

Gandhi on the other hand was somewhat foolish in his peaceful protest, and sacrificed many lives. I believe that he was extremely lucky to have lived as long as he did. With very minor differences in circumstance, it would have been “Gandhi who?”

I think that some things are worth fighting for. I also believe that non-violent protest will only work against peaceful people. It is interesting to note that Dr Martin Luther King, whom I greatly admire, and Gandhi both met violent deaths at the hand of assassins. Neither packed guns.

Both Harriet Tubman, whom I greatly admire, and most of the north coast thugs died of old age. Both packed guns and stood up for what they believed in. Right or wrong.


Eel River Ernie said...

Ernie, I have been traveling and fishing quite a bit over the last couple of months and am catching up on all the stuff I missed when I noticed that your "Hit Counter" has exceeded one million, congratulations! Earlier in the summer it was approaching 100,000 so obviously you have had some interesting posts recently.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I was watching the counter get close to 100,000 When one morning I got up and it was blank. It does that about once a year. I have not been able to relate it to anything, but I usually just start over with the right number. This time I wasn't sure what the number was, so I just reposted it at 1,000,000. I had several people claim to be "The Millionth Visitor". (YEah, Like they were going to get a prize.

The counter is now only close to the right count. Within a few hundred.

Bobbi said...

Ernie I'm sure you meant 1859 since the Civil War was between 1861 and 1865
-A fan of history and your blog

Ernie Branscomb said...

Boy, do I feel stupid!

Thank-you Russel. I corrected my mistake, and now everyone will wonder what we are talking about. But, thank you for catching, and pointing out my error on dates.

spyrock said...

in 1799 my dads ancestor elijah's brother, big george, left carlise, pa and moved to jackson county ohio near the scoatia salt licks.
in john mccain's book why courage matters, the way to a braver life, john writes about how abolishionist big george met john wesley powell and became his teacher because john's family was antislavery and john was being stoned by the local proslavers at town and at school around 1838. in 1846, proslavers burned down big george's school and museum and collection of indian artifacts and fossels dinasours,wolly mammouth bones etc. if you want the whole story buy john mccains book. he needs the money.

spyrock said...

Having met this giant of a man when my family first arrived from New York, “Big George Crookham” was a welcome guest in our home. I can remember listening to his teachings and following him through fields and deep into forests searching for plants, insects, reptiles and artifacts. Big George believed that students should learn through observation and experience. As I grew older, Big George would take me on trips through the country side to collect specimens and he taught me how to respect nature and all types of people. My love for reading, exploring nature and collecting items from nature continued to grow, as did my appreciation and respect for Big George. My father valued education, however, he did not approve of me studying natural science as he thought that religion was the answer to all questions. Unfortunately for my father, I felt differently.

Big George, like my family, opposed slavery and aided enslaved people during their escape to freedom. As the years passed, both he and my family were targets of pro slavery neighbors who vandalized our property and harassed us. When it became too dangerous for us to stay where we were living, my family was forced to move. The most difficult part of the move for me was saying farewell to Big George. As I said goodbye, I had to hold back my tears, vowing never to forget what Big George taught me.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Spy, was that last one a quote from John Wesley Powell?

spyrock said...

hi ernie. i copied the second from the following site which is from john wesley powells writings.#
U-Haul SuperGraphics: Wyoming

The Graphic; Introduction · Writings · Early Life · “Big George” ... 1834 in Mount Morris, New York, and given the name John Wesley Powell ... Fortunately for me, several years earlier my family befriended a man named George Crookham, ... - 34k - Similar pages

the thing about john wesley powell that most people don't know is that he had one arm left after losing the right arm in the civil war. so he went down the colorado river tied to a chair in the boat

kaivalya said...

Ummm, I'd hate to be a nay-sayer - on your blog of all places! But you missed a few essential facts about Gandhi that make this post extremely ironic.

First, Gandhi hated blacks - specifically black Africans. Very shortly before he lead the cry for an independent India, he lived in South Africa. There he published his opinions that black African people were inferior to both Indians and British people and didn't deserve equal rights - although Indians in South Africa did deserve rights equal to their British counterparts. In short, Gandhi was a racist.

"We believe as much in the purity of race as we think they do... We believe also that the white race in South Africa should be the predominating race."

Second, Gandhi was a nationalist. He believed that an independent India should have forcibly united Pakistan, Nagaland, Bhutan, etc.. He did not subscribe to the philosophy of self-ruling states within a Republic (like the theory of our founding fathers). Although, he was a self-described Anarchist later in his life, advocating for no-government / direct democracy.

Then there was his experiments in celibacy, of which he forced his wife to subscribe to. And was known for sleeping naked with his 19-year old niece, Manu Gandhi, as a spiritual exercise.

Is this the Gandhi you thought you knew?

I'm just sayin' ...

spyrock said...

first of all you have to understand one universal priciple. you have to be like water, seek the lowest ground, no resistance, and you will overcome everything. that is why martin luther king went to gandhi. we americans also had a revolution against the british as you may remember. however, abraham lincoln never won the presidency by saying he was an abolishionist. he would have had his house burned down just like big george. lincoln freed the slaves to destroy the economy of the south with whom he was at war with at the time. sorry to burst your bubble. but david letterman nailed an intern too. everyone winds up being human in the end.
which ruins the value of their rookie card as time wears on.

Ernie Branscomb said...

A great amount of people have great love and respect for Gandhi. As you might have guessed, I'm not to be counted among them. I think that he was a great fool. My one amazement is that he had so many followers. I believe most of his ideas were the ravings of an insane man. He was a racist, a sexist, a bigot and a fool. I only found out about it being his birthday because I was making a search to find out what kind of drugs he took. Yet, there are a great amount of people that respect and admire him, to to the point of elevating him to the status of a being a minor God. Indeed he is universally accepted as “The Father of India.” Go figger.

There are people that think that he was a great man. People that I credit with being intelligent and wise. So, where does that leave me? Most of the people around me have firm thoughts based on fluffy logic. Who am I to say? I might be wrong, but at least I try to give it some thought. I see people that live on the streets of Garberville wiser than Gandhi.

Now, to all those Gandhi lovers... I am sorry that I offended you! Please, don't send me any bad karma.

spyrock said...

well we all know what kind of drugs the father of our country took. good ole gw. with 40 acres of hemp under cultivation, its hard to believe that he didn't inhale like clinton.
nice to see y'all up there keepin up with american tradition.

Anonymous said...

I do not recall the south being all that peaceful in the fifties and sixties. Anything but! And the British in colonial India weren't angelic either. But having glossed the facts to support your theory about peaceful resistance working out for Martin Luther King, Jr., you neglected to take in to consideration that he was assassinated. Your depiction of the extermination of the American Indian is interesting in that it isn't making excuses for whites and blaming the Indians for depredations on stock. I just hope the newbies are paying attention. Not that they have a right to an opinion about it.