In these times, when the roar of violence has numbed the multitudes out of hope of a harmonious world, there are courageous voices which refuse to die out and persons who refuse to give up their quest for peace. Martin Luther King III too has picked up the mantle from where his legendary father left. On a recent tour of India to mark 50 years of Martin Luther King Jr’s pilgrimage to the land of Gandhi, he spoke exclusively to Akrita Reyar of zeenews.com .
At a time when non-violence has become a catch-phrase, how relevant is Gandhi to the world? Gandhi was, is, and shall remain relevant in all times. The message of Gandhi, at this point in time, more than ever, is vitally needed for the world. We are still engaged in combat and hostility. We haven’t yet learnt the lessons of non-violence. And there is not just one violence i.e. the physical violence; there are many types of violence. And these are destroying people everywhere. That is why Gandhi inspired so many movements around the world, including the anti-apartheid movement of South Africa and even the Civil Rights Movement of America. It all emanates from the same thing- the thought of non-violence and tolerance.
How do you perceive, in such a scenario, would the election of Barack Obama affect the world at large? President Barack Obama has already stated that his arms are open to everyone. This is a very different posture from the previous administration whose many policies we did not agree with. Like, as you said before, the war in Iraq where too many people have been killed, maimed or made homeless without reason? Yes, like the war in Iraq. Which are the new voices in this age that give you a reason for optimism? Well, this is a new era. And there are several voices among religious leaders, business leaders and others, who are spreading the message of peace. Our own President, Barack Obama, I have already mentioned as a prominent voice among such people. But if there is one person I would like to cite, then it would have to be former South African President Nelson Mandela. You would say that he is among the veterans. Yes, but he certainly holds the moral authority on the subject.
What is your take on the rise of Islamic terrorism? How does one deal with that? My point is that you cannot exclude people from sharing their perspective. When we exclude people, don’t listen to them, then there is likely to be a break out of things that we see. Whether it is the forces of Osama bin Laden or the Taliban, they have to be heard out. How would you react to a 26/11? Would speaking really help? First of all we have to condemn the dastardly incident. Acts of violence like these are just not acceptable. We have to then question the behaviour. Why do they do these things? We have to ask them not to use these methods. We have to ask them their problem because I think resorting to violence is just not logical human behaviour. You have spoken about equality among communities, among religions, even between the haves and have nots; but I didn’t hear your thoughts on gender equality… Oh! Yes, absolutely. There must be gender equality. For us all, women are so important. They are such important parts of our lives. I feel only if we had given them real equality and listened to them, then I am sure some of our policies through history would have been more sensitive and sensible. How have you enjoyed your trip to India? It’s been terrific. I am so thankful for this wonderful opportunity of being in this great country. I thank you all.
Final question….as the world order stands today, do you have hope? Oh, yes! I am full of hope. Especially, after the election of Barack Obama.