The anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday first celebrated in Lviv

2019-11-15 15:15

The participants of the event spoke about the effectiveness of Gandhi’s ideas of nonviolent resistance, Maidan as nonviolent resistance, nonviolence through the lens of Christianity, Crimean Tatar resistance, as a positive experience of peaceful struggle and Gandhi’s ideas in the post-truth era.

The thoughts on these topics were shared by Myroslav Marynovych, Vice-Rector for Appointment and Mission of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Mridula Ghosh, Chairman of the Board at the East European Development Institute, Mitr. Prot. Dr. Mykhailo Dymyd, Professor, Department of Pastoral Theology, Ukrainian Catholic University, Fr. Dr. Oleh Kindii, Professor, Theology Department, Ukrainian Catholic University, Alim Umerodzha, co-founder of the Crimean House in Lviv, and Olha Morhuniuk, an expert at the East European Development Institute.

The event was moderated by Dr. Pavlo Smytsnyuk, Director of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies, Ukrainian Catholic University, who noted: Gandhi's genius turned his nonviolent resistance into an economic and cultural resistance, that is, an effective resistance. Therefore, nonviolence is effective. But in Ukraine, there is a particularly noticeable problem when the aversion to violence, the idea of nonviolence has become so ubiquitous that anyone who is not afraid of war, who risks going to war, while everyone else does not want war, has a chance to win because he has some levers. So the key question is: how should one perceive nonviolence in this situation?

About the times of Mahatma Gandhi and the nonviolent resistance in Ukraine nowadays spoke Myroslav Marynovych: “In our trials, we should not be like the terrified apostles, wandering around the fields or streets of Jerusalem during the Passions of Christ. Instead, listen to what Jesus himself says from under his Christ: "I make all things new." Indeed, today we have the chance to create something new. For centuries we have wanted to assert ourselves, our culture, our differentness from Russia. So let's be different. Let us also mention with gratitude the humble figure of the Indian righteous Mahatma Gandhi, who even today reminds the world of an eternal truth: the light is neither hatred, nor falsehood, nor violence."

Mridula Ghosh reflected on the post-colonial era, the emergence of wealthy people with a limited sense of responsibility, the lack of communication between politics and morality, and the need to change passive subjects to active citizens. “A political consumer is not a citizen, he simply chooses a product. So the main question is: should politics and politicians have the right to be spiritually and morally free?” – asks the Chairman of the Board of the East European Development Institute.

Mitr. Prot. Dr. Myckhailo Dymyd, on the example of the Maidan, showed how nonviolence can be effective, and solidarity without violence is an antidote to individualism and corruption. Reflections on violence and nonviolence in the Christian tradition were shared by Fr. Dr. Oleh Kindii. He also compared it to the system proposed by Gandhi.

The principles laid down by Mahatma Gandhi and recognized more than half a century ago are very relevant today for both Ukrainians and the Crimean Tatar people.

“Nonviolence is a weapon. Love, tolerance – are on the one hand values, and on the other – a weapon against an opponent who does not know it. That is why it kills him. The only downside is that it takes a lot of time,”Alim Umerodzha is convinced. He also notes that the consequences of nonviolent resistance are self-sacrifice. This is the price of victory.

Finally, Gandhi's ideas as a source of inspiration for both political leaders and the youth of the world were presented by Olha Morhuniuk, an expert at the East European Development Institute.

It is important that the round table was held within the walls of UCU, which is a leading educational institution that preaches the millennial Christian principles of nonviolence that Gandhi particularly respected.

Note: the role of Mahatma Gandhi in leading nonviolent resistance to the liberation of India has received great recognition in the world. Since 1947, this day has been a festive and holiday day in India. Many years later, on June 15, 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution commemorating October 2, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi as International Day of Nonviolence.

Also, since 2007, EEDI, as a non-governmental organization, has been conducting an "An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind" action on the occasion of the International Day of Nonviolence (October 2) – the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi – in Ukraine and organizes the Peace and Nonviolence Week on the occasion of Vaclav Havel's Birthday (October 5) and John Lennon (October 9).

Anna Hrapeniuk