“A child’s big question”–Daily Metta

August 30:

gandhi-21“Times change and systems decay. But it is my faith that, in the result, it is only nonviolence and things that are based on nonviolence that will endure.”

–Gandhi (Harijan, April 29, 1939)

Mahatma Gandhi is a big name, not only to understand and from whom to learn, but when you are five years old, even to say. Still, he has already captured the hearts of the children around the world, and certainly, at the preschool where I work. One child in particular comes to mind. Last year, he heard ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ as “Mama Gandhi,” which was endearing enough. (Gandhi did, after all, have very so-called “motherly” or nurturing, gentle tendencies as those close to him would profess with an affectionate pride.) Today, a year later, this same little boy is sitting at a table working on a card weaving, looking at a picture in the room of Gandhi as a young man, the one of him in his early career as a barrister in South Africa. He stared for a long time as if contemplating something very serious and then looked at me and asked with genuine concern,

“Is ‘Hotma’ Gandhi ‘stinct?” (sic). I walked over to him to make sure I heard and he asked me again, “Is ‘Hotma’ Gandhi ‘stinct?”

“No, he is not,” I answered, and pointed to his heart, “he lives in here.”

I proceeded to tell him a little story about Gandhi when he was a little boy just like this little boy in front of me, and he seemed satisfied, returning to his work with peace in his heart.

It was a powerful question for a five year old to ask, because, really, the question behind his question was whether peace and nonviolence are extinct, if they go away when the body dies. But I share the faith of Gandhi, “only nonviolence and things that are based on nonviolence will endure.”  Including its actors. I shared the interaction with my colleague, who answered,“No he lives on in our hearts,” before I even had a chance to tell her my response!

Mahatma Gandhi ki jai! Long live Mahatma Gandhiji!


Experiment in Nonviolence:

Talk to a child today about the message of Mahatma Gandhi.