Nonviolence which these days receives the most attention among the values brought to us by Gandhi

The endemic violence in today’s world makes the commitment to nonviolence particularly difficult, but all the more important and urgent.

The Mahatma’s nonviolence teaching is not only a code of conduct for individuals but also for social institutions, religious communities, governments and other organizations. In the face of today’s problem with international terrorism, nonviolence in the spirit of Gandhi  is ever more important. It cannot only be an attitude where we beg the aspirant terrorists to renounce their cruelties; it should be more than an open discussion in a pacific mode with potential enemies.

One of the primary teachings of Gandhi is that you cannot defeat violence and cruelty as long as you have not yourself completely renounced this ugliness. “Satyagraha – the Truth Force” allows the breaking of laws which are suppressive, but disallows violence! Therefore the high moral status of the defenders of democracy is of prime importance. The loss of this status provides an immense strength to their violent enemies.

Seen under this aspect, transgressions of the defenders of democracy, and dirty behavior of those who pretend to fight for democratic values and human rights, have greatly helped terrorists to recruit new combatants and to generate public sympathy and understanding for their ugly acts. However powerful the armaments of the defenders of democracy might be, the loss of their moral status substantially undermines their strength.

Another, more long-term aspect of Gandhi’s teaching is the effort to unite Hindus, Muslims and Christians. Schools and similar institutions cultivating hate towards other communities or groups of people have to be closed. This is true for Koranic schools, but not exclusively. These principles have to be applied to any structure which promotes a strong sense of sectarian identity; which distances one human being from the other, based on religion, ethnic belonging, or other beliefs.

The Board of the Conscience Institute has therefore decided to organize the Chromy Awards ceremony each year in honor of the Mahatma, celebrating his teachings and the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (or Spiritus Mundi as Anna Chromy calls it), the philosophy which considers the whole universe as one family.

Paulo Coelho wrote in honor of the Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 2003 – Shirin Ebadi

Words, which according to the author, can be applied to all those who are working to create a better world. The text, taken from his wonderful book “Like the Flowing River”, describes a conscience fit to be honored with a Chromy Award:
“The Persian poet Rumi once said that life is like being sent by a king to another country in order to carry out a particular task. The person sent may do a hundred other things in that other country, but if he or she fails to fulfill the particular task he or she was charged with, it is as if nothing had been done.

To the woman who looked to the road ahead of her, and knew that hers would be a difficult journey. To the woman who did not attempt to make light of those difficulties, but, on the contrary, spoke out against them and made them clearly visible. To the woman who made the lonely feel less alone, who fed those who hungered and thirsted for justice, who made the oppressor feel as bad as those he oppressed. To the woman who always keeps her door open, her hands working, her feet moving. To the woman who personifies the verses of that other Persian poet, Hafez, when he says: Not even seven thousand years of joy can justify seven days of repression. To the woman who is here tonight, may she be each and every one of us, may her example spread, may she still have many difficult days ahead, so that she can complete her work, so that, for the generations to come, the meaning of injustice will be found only in dictionary definitions and never in the lives of human beings. And may she travel slowly, because her pace is the pace of change, and change, real change, always takes a very long time.” I would like to add as an encouragement a citation of the Bhagavad Gita from the same book, which reflects the meaning of the Void in my Cloak: “Man is not born, nor does he die. Having come into existence, he will never cease to be, because he is eternal and permanent. Just as man discards old clothes and puts on new clothes, so the soul discards the old body and puts on a new one. But the soul is indestructible; swords cannot pierce it, fire cannot burn it, water cannot wet it, the wind cannot dry it. It is beyond the power of all these things. Since man is always indestructible, he is always victorious (even in his defeats), and that is why he should never be sad.”

Edgar Morin, Philosophe, sociologue, antropologue

“PROPOSITIONS PHILOSOPHIQUES POUR UN HUMANISME REGENERE”

«La compassion est la loi essentielle, la loi unique peut-être, de l’existence de toute l’humanité»
(Dostoïevski dans l’Idiot).

Les égoïsmes que favorise l’individualisme hypertrophié de notre civilisation suscitent le désintérêt du Je à l’égard du Nous et se déchainent dans les ambitions, la soif du profit. L’amour dans l’humanité déborde les relations entre individus, irrigue le monde des idées, donne sève à la vérité. On ne peut pas vivre sur le mépris des cultures différentes. Il faut voir ce que chacun peut apporter.

On sait désormais qu’il n’y a pas de raison pure sans qu’un centre émotionnel ne soit en même temps excité dans le cerveau. A un moment donné, la raison purement glacée est quelque chose d’inhumain. On sait ce que cela a produit dans l’histoire, des croisades aux camps de concentration. Il faut lier raison et passion.

Je sais bien que l’essentiel est complètement inexpliqué et peut-être inexplicable. Il faut pleinement reconnaitre que nous sommes dans un univers dont nous avons peut-être le secret en nous, mais dont nous ignorons comment ouvrir le coffre-fort où est déposé le secret. Tout ce que nous avons appris de l’univers a révélé un abyssal mystère de la réalité, qui tantôt nous semble absolu, tantôt s’évanouit : mystère de la vie sur terre, si stupéfiante depuis sa naissance, et non moins stupéfiante dans ses évolutions, mystère de l’humain, mystère de la conscience.

Nous sommes un concentré d’univers. En détruisant la biosphère, nous détruisons notre terreau nourricier et nous nous détruisons aussi. Nous devons arriver à une économie écologisée. Une formidable révolution est en marche, mais elle se manifeste par des éléments dispersés, non reliés, non connus. Tous ces ruisseaux doivent se rencontrer pour former des rivières, des fleuves, et c’est de cette façon que l’on arrive finalement à changer de voie.

EDGAR MORIN, Philosophe, sociologue, antropologue