Gandhi’s legacy: Is non-violence still relevant?
Last Updated January 30, 2008
CBC News

Sixty years ago this week, on Jan. 30, 1948, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was murdered. A man who had driven the British out of India with non-violent civil disobedience fell victim to an assassin’s bullet.Gandhi’s frail frame and bespectacled face were already familiar around the world, thanks to his tireless campaign
against imperial Britain. Known as “Mahatma” — which means “Great Soul” in Sanskrit — he was revered as a saint, a demi-god, in his native land. His death plunged the country into spasms of grief and self-doubt.With wars raging in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless civil conflicts around the world, even the most fervent advocates of Gandhi’s ideals might find their faith tested by the realities of today.

But one Toronto-based academic went through such a test recently, and emerged, he says, even more committed to non-violence.

Iranian-Canadian Ramin Jahanbegloo is a visiting professor at the Centre for Ethics at the University of Toronto. He was arrested in his native Iran in 2006 and held for four months at Teheran’s notorious Evin prison, accused of vague links to spying.

Now back in Toronto, Jahanbegloo told CBCNews.ca that his jail time only served to underline the contemporary relevance of non-violence and of Gandhi’s legacy.

“You have time [in prison] to reflect on your choices, and on how Gandhi and Mandela used their jail terms. They grew as humans, rejected revenge and resentment and emerged to change the world,” he said.

“That’s the choice we have.”