Honoring 80 Years of Love and Light: Happy Birthday, Arun Gandhi

Posted in By Bethany Hegedus, Gandhi Family, Outreach | Comments Off on Honoring 80 Years of Love and Light: Happy Birthday, Arun Gandhi

Live in the Light: Share YOUR stories

Grandfather Gandhi is a personal yet universal tale. Yes, it is about Arun Gandhi’s anger as a boy, and how he learned to use that anger to “shed light like a lamp” instead of be reactive and destructive as lightning can be, something his famous grandfather demonstrated in his non-violent teachings and ideas about passive resistance. But it is also a universal one. Librarian, Betsy Bird, in her Fuse 8 review of Grandfather Gandhi, writes this:

“…Hegedus and Gandhi have formulated a much more accessible narrative. Few children can relate to having a famous relative. But what about controlling their anger in the face of injustice? What’s fascinating about this book is that the authors have taken a seemingly complex historical issue and put it into terms so child-friendly that a five-year-old could get the gist of it.”

Arun Gandhi

Today, Arun Gandhi turns 80 years old. In the last few weeks, there has been a secondly deadly shooting at Ft. Hood, a military base not far from where I live in Austin. There has been a lethal stabbing in a Pennsylvania high school. And yesterday, there was the murder of three at a Jewish Community Center in Kansas. Grandfather Gandhi, the book, was born out of a day of violence and destruction, 9/11.

Bird, in her lengthy review ends with:

“Fair play to author Bethany Hegedus for hearing him speak more than 13 years ago about this moment in his life, knowing that not only was there a picture book story to be had here, but a lesson kids today can grasp. As she says in her ‘Note from the Authors’ at the end, ‘The world we live in needs to heal – to heal from the wars that are fought, to the bullying epidemic, to mass killings by lone gunmen, to poverty, to hunger, and to issues that contribute to internal anger being outwardly expressed in violent actions.’  Gandhi’s message never grows old. Now we’ve got a  book that helps to continue his work for the youngest of readers. A necessary purchase then.”

I can think of no better way to honor Arun Gandhi, 5th grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi, than to continue his and his grandfather’s work, of helping our world heal. As I tell kids, when I am out in schools, “there wasn’t a band-aid big enough in the days after 9/11 to help our country heal,” and as I tell you know, it may have taken us twelve years to see this book through from idea to publication but we did. We chose light and we chose not to give in to the darkness. Today, tomorrow, and always you can do the same.

Kids saying pledge

So, I invite you, kids, adults, ALL, to wish Mr. Gandhi a happy birthday by contributing to the light and helping our world heal, in whatever way calls to you. You can publicly take the Live Your Life as Light pledge, you can download copies of the pledge and share with friends, family, and community groups. You can donate a copy of Grandfather Gandhi to a school, public library, group home, hospital, prison,or  institution of your choosing.

AND you can email us at livelifeaslight AT gmail.com  with YOUR STORIES of choosing the light: sharing stories of small and large scale activism, of forgiving yourself and others, of finding your own unique tools and talents, you can share a story about someone who has made a difference in your life, you can share a page from you anger journal, you can sit down with your parents, or sit down with your children and add to the pledge, make it even more personal and specific to you. Taking an action, and then sharing that action, and allowing us to spotlight it for others is a way we can focus on the healing instead of destruction, on love rather than on hateful actions, on peace and prayer. We can cultivate more light. Let us do it together.

Arun and Bethany

Arun, my friend, a man who is not my family, but who reminded me that he is my family, as we are all one, and who I am lucky to have in my life, and whom I now think of as my grandfather, one I wish to make proud, happy birthday. Thank you for the work you do, thank you for allowing me to tell your story, to share it with kids, for giving me the vehicle to talk about anger, fear, shame, injustice, and to get these magical words back from our readers:

“I read grandfather every day and night and when I’m mad I read it and that’s how I relax my anger.” That’s from Jennifer!

“While I read your book, I thought about what you said in the book. I would rather control my anger as a lamp. I want to be calm and peaceful just like Grandfather Gandhi. I won’t try to ignore that sentence. I already signed the pledge to be gentel and calm and not harm anybody. I won’t break that promise I said myself.” And THAT is from Alexandra…

Happy birthday! And thank you for being the light.

Arun Gandhi namaste