Without a Vision, We Perish!

January 30 was the 67th anniversary of the assassination of Mohandas Gandhi, the visionary lawyer who became famous by fighting for the civil rights of Muslim and Hindu Indians in South Africa. Gandhi returned to his homeland of India in 1915, where he organized peasants to protest excessive land-taxes.

Gandhi became the leader of the Indian National Congress in 1921, and led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending Dalit, the caste system of India, increasing economic self-reliance, and independence of India from British domination. Leading Indians to protest the national salt tax with the 400 km (250 mi) Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later in demanding the British to immediately leave India in 1942, during World War II, Gandhi was imprisoned for many political offenses over the years.

Gandhi’s vision, his passion, was to practice non-violence in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. In the last year of his life, Gandhi worked to stop the carnage between Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs that raged in the border area between India and Pakistan. He was assassinated on January 30, 1948, by a Hindu nationalist who thought Gandhi was too sympathetic to Muslims in India.

Martin Luther King, Jr., had a dream. His dream was that all people would be judged, not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. He gave his life to this dream, working to right the wrongs of society, to demand that the United States uphold the constitution, which states that all men are equal. King gave his life advocating civil rights in this country that was created so that all could experience freedom. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
King was a follower of Gandhi, advocating a non-violent way of changing the world in which he lived.

As with all visionaries, Gandhi and King were pulled by their Guiding Light. Within each of us there is that Guiding Light, but for many of us it is dim, because we don’t realize what it is. Sometimes we have a glimmer of it, but, not knowing what it is we ignore it. For some of us, though it may shine brightly, the pull of the world is too great, and we ignore our Guiding Light.

Then there are those like Gandhi and King, who see the Light, feel It’s pull, and follow. The path may be rocky and may end in death, as with these two, but it always leads to our destination…our True Self.

Gandhi’s vision was for his beloved country – to see his people, regardless of their religion or caste, free from the tyranny of England, from excessive taxes, and from religious strife. He saw an India in which women were treated as equals with men and poverty was not the norm. King’s vision was that all people, regardless of the color of their skin, would be treated equal. King’s vision was of the greatness of the American people, a greatness demonstrated by the ability to see beyond the color of a person’s skin. Both men gave their lives to these visions.

Discovering your vision is both easy and difficult. It’s as easy as just sitting, being quiet, and asking…and then listening. It’s as difficult as sitting, being quiet, and asking…and then listening. In a world run by cell phones, computers and tablets, where social media takes the place of solitary quietness and personal interaction, sitting and being quiet are anathema. It’s as though we’re afraid of the quiet, of being alone. And yet, that’s the only way we’ll catch the vision for our lives. Solitude and quietness are the only way we’ll find our Guiding Light.

Solitary voices crying in the wind, advocating something few understand. Solitary figures, walking the road, no matter how rough the terrain, following their Guiding Light. How many of us know our Guiding Light? How many of us, when we catch the glimmer of the vision, are willing to lay down our lives to follow it?

“I have a dream…” Do you? Are you willing to follow it, no matter where it leads?