I've been steeping myself lately in the life of Mahatma Gandhi because I did my first theatrical performance yesterday playing the great social activist. It was a natural fit, since he and I share the same hair style!
But even more so, I have come to admire the path toward being a loving partner that he lived with his wife, Kasturbai Gandhi, during the 69 years they were married.
That path took him from being a dominating, bossy, over-bearing husband who thought that his job in marriage was to bend his wife to his will and his ideas of what she should do and who she should be, to a place of absolute respect and honoring of her.
Gandhi described Kasturbai as being the person who taught him about non-violent non-cooperation, the cornerstone of his social activism for India's freedom from the tyranny of England. She did this with her own example in dealing with him, as she refused to allow him to direct her life as he saw fit. She stood her ground, but did so in a non-cooperative, and non-violent manner. But very, very firm.
They lived in a different culture than I do now. Their culture held the same ideas for how men treated women as Gandhi tried to live with his wife. He often said that there were two kinds of slavery in India: the slavery of those people who lived in the lowest caste called the Untouchables, and the slavery of women. And that his mission involved fighting to end that slavery for both of these groups of India.
Gandhi gradually learned through the example of his loving wife to relax his ideas about dominating her. In her power and strength, she showed him what the results are when you refuse to go along with the tyranny of another, but also refuse to react in retaliation. That last piece fits well with so many ideas from our Western culture, ideas like “Turn the other cheek", and “Love thine enemy, bless those who persecute you" that come from the Christian ethic espoused by Jesus.
In turning the other cheek, Kasturbai showed Gandhi his own brutality and domination. She showed him directly how he was showing up in their marriage, and thus in his own life. And slowly, he came to see that her love and patience were changing him, and he came to respect her, and love her even more deeply and fully.
I have come to believe that it is impossible to love someone completely who we hold as being less than us. There are way too many religions that support the idea that men are dominant and women should be subservient. It is time to learn from examples such as Mr. Gandhi's, where a man can wake up to the fact that his misuse of power over his partner is hurtful, not loving, and that there is a better way.
It took me a long time to learn this myself - it took getting married and divorced twice. I know that our culture pushes us to dishonor women in so many ways, and I participated in that cultural habit. If there ever was a cause that requires direct, personal, non-violent, non-cooperation, as Mr. Gandhi taught us, it is this issue of the misuse of power of men over women.
I acknowledge your legitimate power in your life, and your use of that power for beauty in the world.
Copyright (c) 2007 Don McAvinchey
Spiritual Coach Don McAvinchey takes you forward toward your dreams, one miracle at a time. To sign up for more free tips like these and claim your FREE e-course gift, 3 Steps to Becoming a Miracle Magnet, visit his site at CreateaMonthofMiracles.com . Add your miracle stories to the Create a Month of Miracles Blog .