Civilization: Daily Metta

“Formerly, when people wanted to fight with one another, they measured between them their bodily strength; now, it is possible to take away thousands of lives by one man working behind a gun from a hill. This is civilization. (. . .) This civilization is such that one has only to be patient and it will be self-destroyed.” ~ Gandhi, Speeches and Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, pp. 354-355

Civilization, in its true sense, Gandhi believed, would mean centering society on the needs and well-being of its people—of life, and at the pace of life: slow, deliberate. Instead, what passes for civilization today is a culture of speed, machinery, technology, and death. Gandhi warns that such a culture need not fear that it will be threatened from without. Its very foundation of dehumanization and depersonalization will make it crumble from within, not only because of its violence, but because it is based on a lie about human nature. Since such a “civilization” helps no one (though it enriches some), it lacks endurance, staying power. Revered peace theorist, Johan Galtung, once predicted that the American empire would fall around the year 2020, and there are signs that this is taking place! But as Martin Luther King, Jr. once asked, will we move into chaos or community? It depends on how early we begin to use and expand our capacity for nonviolence.

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About Daily Metta

Book cover imageStephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence.

Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide.

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