Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) was a towering figure in history. He lived his philosophy of nonviolent resistance (satyagraha) to the best of his ability. His approach, which grew into a full-fledged ideology with many specific tenets, was primarily based on acts of self-control, developing peace from within, and standing firm when it came to righteous convictions, never at the expense of others but always at one’s own expense. He preached that satyagrahis should never hate the doer, only resist the action, and that no human being was beyond redemption, repeatedly stating that:
“It is easy enough to be friendly to one's friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.”
As a lawyer, activist, spiritual figure, and politician, Gandhi was not beyond reproach, but looking at his life, one can hardly doubt the sincerity of his convictions nor argue against their effectiveness.
Several years ago, I spoke to a minister who was teaching in the outskirts of New York on 9/11 2001. He told me that he’d never seen strangers come together as they did in the weeks after the attack on the Twin Towers. People went out of their way to be nice to each other, support each other, smile at each other, and lend a helping hand wherever they could. He has not experienced anything like it since.
People Get Sidetracked
The truth is that work towards harmony often dissipates in rhythm with receding acrimony. People start to feel better and get sidetracked. This is natural.
If you want to be a bridge-builder, however, you have to work against this instinctive urge. You have to make harmony important, either by continually reminding yourself of the worst that can happen or by envisioning the kind of world that you want to live in and work towards that every day. Some days the carrot will be enough to spur you to action, other days only a vivid mental image of the stick will do the trick.
Democracy presents an interesting dilemma. There needs to be a degree of social harmony to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power from one party to the other after elections. Simultaneously, we need to have vigorous ideological debates about how to achieve the common good—which is ultimately what a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’ should work towards.
The question of how to balance these two competing interests is the critical issue of our times and it depends on several elements.
Inner voices of doubt and fear can be powerful detractors. “Who do I think I am?” “What can I possibly give to the world?” “I am so flawed that I can hardly be the change.”
To overcome limiting beliefs, we, the aspiring peacemakers and bridge-builders of the world, must find ways to empower ourselves.
Self-Confidence Can Increase or Decrease
Thankfully, self-confidence is not static. You can have a lot of self-confidence in one area of my life and little in another. In addition, the feeling can fluctuate from one year to the next, and, since self-confidence can decrease, it can also increase.
In the context of social harmony, the goal is not to be better than anyone else, rather to be confident enough to take action. As such, self-confidence can be defined as:
This dual definition subtracts chest thumping and narcissism from self-confidence and replaces it with solution- and action-orientation.
Ideas that promote social harmony and bridge-building across divides.
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Our Mission and Primary Goal
Our mission is to train and support people who want to do good in the world. We do this by providing access to strategies, methods, and ideas that promote social harmony and enable bridge-building across divides. Our primary goal is to help others create harmony in diverse communities.
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©Harmony Interfaith Initiative
Registered in Hays County, Texas
Founded in 2018
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