I’ve been writing about the book, The Gandhian Iceberg, by Chris Moore-Backman. The concept of the iceberg represents the three interrelated pieces of what is referred to as Integral Nonviolence, which “was meant to denote Gandhi’s holistic and comprehensive nonviolence philosophy and way of life.”
Gene Sharp described three categories from Gandhi’s teaching and action:
- the improvement of individuals in their own lives and ways of living;
- a constructive program to begin building a new social order even as the old one still exists; and
- the practice of various forms of nonviolent action against specific social evils.
Gandhi said “nonviolence is impossible without self-purification.”
“Unfortunately a belief has today sprung up that one’s private character has nothing to do with one’s public activity. This superstition must go. Our public workers must set about the task of reforming society by reforming themselves first. The spiritual weapon of self-purification, intangible as it seems, is the most potent means of revolutionizing one’s environment and loosening external shackles. It works subtly and invisibly; it is an intense process though it may often seem a weary and long-drawn process, it is the straightest way to liberation, the surest and quickest and no effort can be too great for it.” Gandhi
This helps me look at what at many times seemed like a failure on my part, in trying to get people to see the dangers of, and give up personal automobiles, in a different way, and one that I have visited numerous times. Giving up personal automobiles was something I was strongly led to do. I didn’t have any control over the consequences of that, but it was up to me to follow that leading, or not. For over thirty years, not one person I knew of gave up their car. But this was a necessary part of my own “self-purification.”
This is the fundamental Quaker/spiritual concept that one should be faithful to what it is one is called to do, regardless of the probable adverse consequences, or being unable to see, at that time, any practical result.