Peace and Identity: Some Reflections on the South Asian Experience




Gandhi, Rajmohan

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School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution


Being the kind of person I am, a 59-year-old man who has lived most of his life in India, a country where for almost every necessity demand outstrips supply and where you quickly accept what is available-the train, bus, flight, seat, or loaf of bread—I have been attempting, in these last ten weeks in Fairfax, to find a personal, even a physical, balance while taking in, from bottom to top and left to right, the display in your stores of cereal, bread, milk, and orange juice. The fact that I have low blood pressure makes this bid for a personal balance slightly more difficult and certainly more necessary. From your Native Americans I learn that balance is best symbolized by the circle. This rings a bell inside me; in India to show respect to a shrine we walk round it, completing one or more circles, and a Hindu marriage is pronounced when with their steps the bride and groom encircle a sacred fire. I have found some truth in the view that if the circle or wheel represents India, the fork in the road marks the West because in India we continue doing what we have always done while the American is always choosing the road to take, or, nowadays, the button to press.