“The literal meaning of stayagraha is this – insistence on truth, and force derivable from such insistence” (447).The principles of Satyagraha are beautiful principles derived from the statutes of most major world religion. It speaks of love and of truth as one, as God as one, and therefore, intends to unite all religions, regardless of creed or dogma. Regardless of the ultimate truth of who God is, the implications of some good or truth in human beings are the same, and should be pursued to an ultimate end. However, in a secular government, it would seem impossible to implement such standards of truth and love because of their foundations on religion. How is a Western nation supposed to adopt the principles of satyagraha, when religion and state are meant to be seperate? Secularity is the state of being unattached to religion, and as long as the definition of secularity remains so, the principles of satyagraha may not be implemented in a Western nation without the loss of it's secular identity. However, were secularity to be redefined as containing only those elements of religion which have been shown to be universal, then satyagraha could be successfully implemented in Western nations without the loss of secularity. The first step to achieving this goal is to reintroduce the taboo subject of religion in the Western state. The second is to effect laws which are synonymous with the goals of satyagraha, and lastly, one must teach humans the principles of satyagaha from a young age, in the schools of these Western nations. Once these things have been done, one may find a completely transformed society, in which the pursuit of Truth and Love are the goals of every man, woman, and child.
The first way in which to implement satyagraha in Western nations is to eliminate the fear of religion. State and Religion are separate entities, but, as to quote Sir Thomas Moore, “when a public man ignores his private conscience, the end result is chaos”. The states of all Western nations must come to realize that the values of religion maintain their integrity whether in the guise of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism. The only belief which is not synonymous with these values is Atheistic Nihilism, which believes in nothing at all except terror and wilderness. Without a belief in the soul, it is impossible to believe in the dignity of the human person, or in Truth, or Love at all. Thus, if a state wishes to cultivate virtue, goodness, and the pursuit of Truth and Love, then it must encourage religious piety, not discourage it. The state must encourage all the good aspects of religion and discourage all the bad aspects, not discourage all the aspects of religion all together. “All religious sects and divisions, all churches and temples, are useful only so long as they serve as a means towards enabling us to recognize the universality of satyagraha” (449). Once the highest axioms of religion are no longer taboo in society, once piety is looked upon as a civil virtue as well as a private one, then corruption will fade away, immorality with die, and divisions among men will cease. It is not differences of opinion which matter and which should be eradicated. No, for this will lead us on the short route to terror. Rather, the state must focus on unifying it's people with love and the universal principles of world religions, in short, with the principles of satyagraha.
The second method and logical progression for introducing the principles of satyagraha is to effect laws which are in accordance with these principles and do away with laws which are not in accordance. The state, in encouraging it's people to embrace the principles of satyagraha, must allow resources and tools for those people who wish to pursue those principles to do so. A law against the public display of the ten-commandments, for example, would be a hindrance to the mutual well being and the practice of satyagraha, because it attempts to do away with the display of the highest axioms of a religion. These axioms are good, and in accordance with satyagraha, and thus a law prohibiting their display would be hindering satyagraha, and in conflict.
The final step in implementing satyagraha is to provide for the education of children in the ways of satyagraha. To quote Ghandi, “It should be an essential of real education that a child should learn that, in the struggle of life, it can easily conquer hate by love, untruth by truth, violence by self-suffering” (447). All children must believe that the principles of satyagraha are principles on which the world is set in its foundations. If they believe this, then they will grow up following these principles, and the future of Western civilization will be faced towards the realization of satyagraha. But this can not be done without the previous two steps already in place. Otherwise, children will grow up with opposing forces on their minds, arguing one against the other, and will not know whom to believe. Thus they will grow up with doubt and without a firm belief in Truth or Love, and live in the constant fear of error. The state, if it wishes to see satyagraha realized in the minds and hearts of its people, must therefore teach its future generations the highest axioms of Truth and Love from an early age. The children must know this from their youth, in their schools, and in their public spheres as well as in their homes.
In conclusion, the principles of satyagraha can only be implemented in Western society if the following were to take place. First, religion must be embraced as a method in which truth may by realized and love effected. Secondly, laws must be implemented to aid the pursuit of truth and love. And lastly, the state must take measures to encourage the implementation of the principles of satyagraha into the youth of its population. Once these measures have been implemented, the state will find itself experiencing a renaissance not only of virtue and moral values, but also in its economic, scientific and artistic spheres. Once excellence of one kind has been realized in a society, it spills over to surrounding areas, spreading its sweet smell and its goodness. Satyagraha is not valuable just for the issues of corruption and violence, but also for its effects on the social, political and financial wellbeing of the state.
Ghandi, Mahatma. “The Theory and Practice of Passive Resistance.” Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. Eds. Stephen Dilks, Regina Hansen, and Matthew Parfitt. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 445-447.
Ghandi, Mahatma. “Meaning of Satyagraha.” Cultural Conversations: The Presence of the Past. Eds. Stephen Dilks, Regina Hansen, and Matthew Parfitt. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001. 447-449.