Remarks by the Honourable Prime Minister Brigadier Mark Phillips on the occasion of the 151st birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
What a privilege it is for me to speak on this occasion as we honour a great leader, a visionary, a world influencer, a global peacemaker- the “great soul”, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. On this, the 151st birth anniversary of this revolutionary figure, many important lessons can still be learnt from his feats and the life that he lived.
It is my sound belief that we must never tire of honouring heroes such as these as their lives serve as constant reminders of the qualities that we should seek to emulate and the lessons that we should continue to pass on through our generations.
When we think of Mahatma Gandhi, many titles come immediately to mind: peacemaker, lawyer, social activist and even politician. But upon summing up the entirety of his life, another word that becomes prominent would be “panoramic”. Few individuals throughout history have left such influential and far-reaching marks in their lifetime. From civil rights in South Africa, to championing women’s rights and empowerment, to fighting for Independence for his beloved India- Gandhi’s legacy is one that encapsulates a widespread, genuine interest in peace, freedom and humanity.
But more importantly, perhaps his greatest gift to this world was his philosophy of satyagraha or non-violence with regard to political and social progress. It is this doctrine that would change the world for millions of people through philosophies that influenced other great men like Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Junior.
In a tribute to Gandhi, Dr. King said: “[Gandhi] would resist evil as much as the man who uses violence, but he resists it without external violence or violence of the spirit. That is what Gandhism does. It is a method of the strong.”
Friends, these words ring ever true today even at home in Guyana. Just weeks after the lives of three innocent young men were violently taken; and just a short while after violent protests rocked our nation due to social and political differences- these words could not be more profound.
Moreover, we now live in a world where information is endless, and our differences and conflicts are easily seen by an international audience. This has spurred the ability for hypersensitivity and an amplified opportunity for offences to be taken and acted upon. Like a disease, these reactions can spread across borders, causing multi-national uprisings of angry people, ready to engage in acts of violence as a recourse for their emotions.
But as per teachings from Gandhi, we must learn as a people how to resist evil without turning to external violence or violence of the spirit. We cannot afford to all blind ourselves by using violence to solve violence.
It is unity and peace that will easier and faster transport us to the prosperous future that we aspire to achieve.
The most extraordinary gem of Mahatma Gandhi’s life and his principles is that they do not serve one people. They serve the world; every country, every nation and every generation. These doctrines can enlighten our children and our children’s children no matter their religion, location, class, or culture.
It only takes a willingness to accept that we can improve by taking little steps towards expanding our wisdom and committing to a life of creating valuable connections, open dialogue and- above all- peace at all costs.
May we all incorporate these teachings into our daily lives so that they can extend to every other aspect of our existence.