Martin Luther King, Jr. Day might have given us a long weekend last Monday, but from where did the celebrated civil-rights leader draw his influence? King said it himself: “Christ gave us the goals, and Mahatma Gandhi the tactics.”
Indeed, the two icons had similar views and parallel lives. Their perspectives were molded by their respective faiths, and both figures were much more controversial in their own times than they are today.
That opposition was a key element in the ends of both King and Gandhi’s lives. Today marks 65 years since the assassination of Gandhi, who is mainly known for leading British India’s nationalist movement, just before he was to lead a group prayer.
Previously, Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte, two Hindu extremists, had attempted to kill Gandhi.
Though one of his political organizations supported Gandhi’s independence movement, Godse soon believed that Gandhi’s hunger strikes were futile, and also began to blame him for the bloody Partition of India (which separated the mostly Hindu India from the more heavily Muslim regions of modern Pakistan and Bangladesh).
Furthermore, Godse thought that Gandhi’s pacifism was much too passive. If nonviolence became the norm, Godse argued, the Hindus would become enslaved.
Clearly, Godse would have friction with most people’s political stances. He was foolish to overlook Gandhi’s grand philosophies in favor of irrational fears.
Aspects of Godse’s extremism can be seen today.
From the right-wing Norwegian “Christian” responsible for two terrorist attacks in 2011 to Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo, a “new religious movement” whose members gassed the Tokyo subway in 1995, terrorists have used countless faiths to justify their atrocities.
While religion has enlightened the world (as seen in the cases of King and Gandhi), it also comes with a more negative side. Whether or not you are religious, everyone realizes that religion means well. It serves as one of many ways to make a more moral person.
Yet no matter how benevolent all creeds are at heart, there is always going to be someone who twists his or her faith of choice into terror.
This is why I believe people should overlook their minor differences in favor of the big picture. Everyone, regardless of their religion or lack thereof, has room to become a better person. And while many extremists are set in their ways, we can stop some future horrors by teaching compassion.
The extremists’ names don’t matter — they could be a Godse, a bin Laden, or a Behring Breivik — but their heinous actions certainly do.
Moriah Krawec is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University and a columnist for The Post. Send her your thoughts at email@example.com.