My views, observations, questions about everything in this world ....and that country they call Egypt.

09 October 2006

Blue Skies From Pain

Dear Gandhi,

Every time I read about what you did, it seems to me like you did not live in this world. Like you were not born of flesh & blood like the rest of us. Your story is so different from any other in our history. But It's not myth; it's not a legend. Your story is not from times very different than ours. It was not in the time of chariots and castles. Yet, it seems like it does not belong.

It does not belong because it's the opposite of what came before and what came after. Before you, people killed each other. From the Mongols to WWI, we found reasons to kill our fellow human. And after you, we still killed each other. We committed ethnic genocide and we nuked cities. We have killed each other in the name of everything you can imagine. We've had massacres in the name of religion, political interest, self defense, money, land, race, and believe it or not, sometimes pleasure! And we used a lot of weapons to do so, from suicide bombs to nuclear ones. Gandhi, you do not belong to us.

How did you do it? How did you achieve goals so great. How you did it in a time like ours, without violence, is something that I cannot comprehend. You freed millions of people from an occupying force. And you freed them to a democracy non the less. A democracy that is the largest in the world today. You never advocated the killing of anyone. Do you realize how outlandish this is to us now? When the British troops opened fire on civilian crowds you did not take up arms and fight. When some of your people retaliated with acts of violence, you condemned them!

Gandhi, if your soul is out there, please know that I have the greatest respect for you. Though I do not comprehend your Hindu beliefs, I fully understand your message of compassion, nonviolence, and truth. There is nothing I can do but bow down in respect for any belief that can lead to such achievements.

Gandhi, I don't understand why we don't site you in every debate. I don't understand why we can't repeat what you did. I don't understand why we still don't get your message. I don't understand why I don't recall learning about you in school. What is the Nobel Peace Prize made for if we didn't give you one?

We all know your story, yet we can't help but load our weapons. We can't help but doubt your message. I myself cannot help but doubt whether your ideas can fight the current ideas of hate and intolerance though I know your task was nothing less. But I also doubt the ideas of violence.

Gandhi, your page in history is like no other. Your achievement is like no other. The means of your achievement is like no other. Gandhi, don't get me wrong, I know you are one of a kind, but I just hope your uniqueness does not hold for long.


"Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." ~Mahatma Gandhi


Blogger Reham said...

sorry to disappoint u MC.. dreamer u r..!!

10:03 AM

Blogger Lexcen said...

MC,what you say is relevant and maybe it there is room for one religion if that religion can motivate people to believe in the power of non-violence as a means to an end. Today unfortunately, the spread of Islam is the problem. Unlike Hinduism, Islam preaches violence and how do we respond to that? Can you see Ghandi opposing the violence of Islam and succeeding?

11:48 AM

Anonymous deenie said...

I just posted a reply but it didn't go through :(

10:40 PM

Anonymous deenie said...

What the heck, I'll try again...

MC: your letter to Gandhi is beautiful and thought-provoking. Wouldn't it be great if all the leaders of the world were like Gandhi?
Now that I think about it, maybe there ARE lots of Gandhis out there - people who think the way he did, with the same kind of beliefs and principles. Maybe they're just not in the spotlight. Maybe the violent people of our time are the ones who don't fit.

Lexcen, sorry to be blunt, but your comment is troubling. "Islam" does not preach violence; people are the ones who preach. Why would you pin the actions of random invdividuals on an entire religion - a religion that such a large chunk of the world's population practices and believes in? To answer your question, I believe Gandhi would oppose any kind of violence, whether it's the violence of Islam (as you like to call it) or the violence of Christianity, or the violence of Judaism, or of any individual or entity.

10:56 PM

Blogger Lexcen said...

deenie, I liked your comment. I don't want to sound patronising, but you should use the resources of the net, to learn about the world.In my schooldays, we didn't have such a wonderful facility to seek out information. Newspapers and television will only show you a very limited point of view. Use your search engine and type "Islam" or "Islam and violence" and you'll see what I mean. BTW, the reason I liked your comment is it shows me how young people like yourself see the world as opposed to an old fart like me. Don't forget, old farts were once young and idealistic.

11:20 AM

Anonymous deenie said...


Thanks for taking the time to reply.

You may be an old fart, but I'm certainly not as young and idealistic as you presume.

I'm also not dumb, and I'm not blind. I'm not blind to what goes on in the world, by people in the name of their religion or anything else. And I'm also not blinded by what I hear and read or see in real life or in this "wonderful facility" called the Internet. I keep my mind open, my interactions plenty, and my resources abundant.

I was arguing against your comment that "Islam preaches violence", plain and simply because it is unfair, in my opinion, to make such a negative, sweeping, unbacked and false statement about an entire religion like that.

That's all.

If you think that the spread of Islam is synonymous with the spread of violence, then it looks to me that you're the "young, idealistic" one in this conversation. Idealistic, in this case, meaning naive and simplistic.

And one last thing... I may find lots of matches when I type "islam" and "violence" into a search engine, but what does that prove? You could find matches by typing in "tiny purple elephant wearing sandals". The Internet can be very useful, of course, but it is also poisoned in the sense that it's not all factual - it's fact and fantasy, and a whole lot of stuff in between - and it certainly can't and shouldn't take the place of real-life interaction, of exploring the world, of understanding an entire faith, etc.

3:22 PM

Blogger MechanicalCrowds said...

Deenie & Lexcen,

Your discussion is off topic but oh well. The problem is that you are calling different interpretations of Islam by the same name.

For the sake of simplicity let's assume there are two interpretations, and let's give them different names. Islam A is the peaceful, compassionate Islam that condemns terrorism. Islam B is the ideology that terrorists use to justify their acts.

In my opinion more people are leaning towards Islam B than Islam A since they don't view terrorism as entirely wrong. This can be supported by the fact that we don't see too many Muslims speak out against such acts. Though this can also be due to Islam A people being scared of Islam B people.

Whether Islam A or Islam B more closely represents the true interpretation of the Quran is something that we may never know. Lexcen is arguing that it is Islam B while Deenie is arguing that it is Islam A. I think that is besides the point. The point is Islam B has to be replaced by Islam A.

10:18 PM

Anonymous deenie said...

Mechanical, two things: 1) sorry for using your space to have an off-topic discussion, but I got caught up in the heat of the moment and couldn't resist. 2) I really like your analysis, but as you said, it's simplistic. The reality isn't so cut and dried. There's a large space between A and B, and many people fall into it. But you already know that.

I disagree with you though about more people leaning towards Islam B. I think it's clearly a fact that MOST people lean towards A. Otherwise, the world would be in a lot deeper shit, don't you think, if 1/6 of the entire population were little Bin Ladens??

But while most people would lean towards a calm and ordinary, just-your-average-Mo lifestyle, it's unfortunately the relatively few extreme type Bs who are in power, who are in the spotlight, and who are controlling the image of Islam the world over.

Much like how the leader of a country will be a piece of crap (think GWB), while the majority of his people are decent and trying to lead normal lives.

It's sad.

Anyway, sorry again for disrupting the flow of your post. It really was beautiful.

11:41 PM

Blogger APOO said...

Mechanical, nice post. Another one of his sayings which I liked is: An eye for an eye makes the world blind.

Have you read "My experiments with truth"? You should...

And I always thought it was Gandhi. Why do you spell it as Ghandi?

5:27 AM

Blogger MechanicalCrowds said...

Wow, you're right it's 'Gandhi' not 'Ghandi'. I guess I spelled it that way because in Arabic, the first letter is the 'gh' sound (like the French R). I've fixed my post now. Thanks, I'll try to check out the book sometime.

5:57 AM

Blogger Lexcen said...


10:37 AM

Blogger Will E. said...

Interesting letter.. who will you write to next?

5:24 PM

Blogger shlemazl said...


That's a really neat summary about Islams A and B.


I can't help but being curious. Why do you feel that you know more about the number of Islam B adherents than a guy that actually lives in Egypt and knows for a fact what is preached in Mosques on Friday?

Oh, and by the way... there is no grey area between people who feel it's o'k to blow up planes and skyscrapers and buses and people who do not.

Violence did not start with Mongols. There seems to be a law of human nature: there will be constant rate of violence at any given point in time whether the year is 100BC or 2006AD

2:23 PM

Blogger Rain said...

Very impressive letter MC, and interesting off tipic discussion too.

Well, you are right MC, Gandhi was a very extra ordinary man and to go through all that he went through and keep that peaceful composure about him is just amazing.

3:14 PM

Anonymous deenie said...

Hey Shlemazl,

I feel I know about the # of "Islam B" adherents because I've lived in many different places in the world, I've met people from all over (from all faiths and backgrounds) and I've even heard what is preached in many mosques on Fridays. Surprisingly to you, for sure, it's not all hate. In fact, most of it isn't. And that's just in Arab countries. What about the millions of Muslims who are living in countries like, say, Indonesia? Do you think that their Friday mosque gatherings even touch on politics, war, Israeli or American aggression, etc? Or do those Muslims not count?

But back to the Arab Muslims. It's easy to make sweeping assumptions based on what is "preached" from "most" mosques, on what is broadcast on national television (refugee children dancing in the street after an attack on America), etc. But these acts, however hostile they seem, DO NOT represent the entirity (and not even the majority) of practicing Muslims the world over. And here, I'm talking about all Muslims. Not type A, and not type B. People don't fit into nice little categories like that.

To answer your comment on the grey area - I just want to make something clear. No one said anything about blowing up planes, skyscrapers or buses. Hurting innocent people is wrong, and anyone would agree.

The only grey area, in my eyes, is the definition of "terrorism". Because while hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese have been victims of war for the past several decades, with thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians dying over the years, any act done by members of those nations is immediately deemed as a "terrorist" act. But wait a minute - haven't those countries been at war?

So while Israel's army can destroy towns and kill however many men, women and children it would like (and this has been going on for decades), it's seen as an act of war or defense. But if it's a Palestinian who's doing the bombing (and this has only started to happen in the past decade), it's viewed as an act of terrorism.

So what the hell is terrorism? Sounds to me like it's a continuation of war. I'm certainly not justifying it. I'm just saying that it's no different than any act of war. And there are people against war, and people who believe it's legitimate. And there are a hell of a lot of people who are all torn up in the middle. People who have lost friends and loved ones on account of this bull shit. People who have watched entire towns fall to pieces, thousands of years of history blown to bits... People who have had their rights taken from them and people who have been struggling against oppression, both violent and non-violent, for decades.

I'm one of the people against war in any shape or form. But would that be different if I watched my family and friends die before my eyes? I don't know. I hope I'll never, ever have to know. I'm lucky as f**k that I don't know.

12:55 AM

Anonymous izzi said...

Yes Deenie let it out!!! Thanks! Finally!!! You said everything that I wanted to say my self but lacked the writing skills you possess.... I agree with everything u said 100%... two words that need to be revised are terrorism and anti Semitism... Israel and America cant play the terrorist ticket anymore, I mean pretty soon bin laden will be exposed as the American agent that he is and all the other 'terrorists' that they speak of that have nothing to do with Islam, nothing whatsoever... I mean where are the follow up stories about the Muslim terrorists that they have been catching all around the world? It’s like they disappear into thin air… what’s the huge secret, how come we don’t know what happens to them or if indeed they turn out to be terrorists at all! You talk about terror? Look at the one million international laws that Israel broke, look at its war crimes and massacres that it has caused, look at the illegal settlements that are currently even EXPANDING, look at its vulgarity in cutting of water from the Palestinians, knocking down their house and cornering them into a corner with all their humiliating check points, they wont even allow Palestinians the peace of mind for an education so that they can rise from their misery, Israelis, they are just as bad to the Palestinians as Hitler was to the Jews, except that the whole world supports this barbarism, and I am a Palestinian so I know exactly what I’m talking about. Every single family member that is living in Palestine lives in constant terror, and who is held accountable? Effing bin laden? Pls don’t insult us anymore shletzmel or whatever it is that ur name is…

12:25 PM

Anonymous izzi said...

Palestine is just one huge concentration camp. I guess the Israeli’s did learn, not only from the best, but the most popular terrorist of all time (Hitler), and that is that. I’m the only one with the guts to say it. Bin Laden is like a Bubble gum flavored Lipsmacker compared to say, Sharon… you see any Muslims electing Bin Laden as a leader?

12:41 PM


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