“Principles like food”–Daily Metta

December 5:

gandhi-21“Ill-digested principles are, if anything, worse than ill-digested food.”

–Gandhi (Mahatma, vol. 4, p. 154)

Food is to the body what principles are to the spirit. When food is rotten, it can harm the body; when our principles are corrupted, they harm us and conceivably the world around us. Thus Gandhi maintains that harm to the spirit is worse than harm to the body, because the body was more easily healed and repaired.

Most justice systems around the world are a prime example of two poorly understood principles: peace and security. For there to be either, it must exist for all. Until we let the principle sink in deeply enough on a collective scale, we will continue to isolate humans who have already been alienated; we will continue to murder human beings for murdering others or drop bombs on human beings who are already victimized by their own governments. Such actions only perpetuate cycles of massive insecurity and agitation. If we wonder why there is war and violence, we have only to look to where our principles stop short of including everyone.

At the same time, we might conjecture, “well-digested” principles are the compost (apt metaphor here) that helps an individual or society grow to its fullest. A full recognition of our principles is the full recognition of our shared dignity. As we work together to build the nonviolent world, from the ground up, from individuals to institutions, we would be wise to let the fullest expression of our principles guide us.

Experiment in Nonviolence:

What is one principle of your own that you can deepen and expand today? Where do you see this principle playing out in society, and where does it stop short?