How did Gandhi's beliefs influence his actions or behaviour?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Gandhi was one of the few leaders who advocated political change through moral change and followed his own advice.  For the most part, there is little duplicity in what Gandhi states and what he believes on a personal level.  In South Africa, his movement for social change rested on the idea that all individuals are equal in the eyes of divinity and should be treated as such by authority structures.  In his ashram in South Africa, everyone did the same work.  No one was exempt from cleaning and other menial duties.  Gandhi ensured that everyone followed this, including himself.  As he moves to India, the might of the British Empire could only be effectively disarmed through a moral as well as a political movement.  Gandhi preached nonviolence and practiced it.  We do not see incidents, even at the British at their worst to Indians or to Gandhi, where he deviates from this.  At the same time, the stubbornness to acquiesce is something that Gandhi demanded of his followers as well as embodied.  For Gandhi, one does not "cut deals" or seek a pragmatic solution to problems, as much as standing for one's principles.  When Gandhi demanded a boycott to British made clothing, he spun his own clothes and expected Indians to do the same.  The spinning wheel, so closely associated with Indians and their flag, is representative of Gandhi's political and personal beliefs.  When Gandhi says that individuals must be willing to go to jail for their beliefs, he does so, as well.  There is little in way of duplicity or deception here.

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