RELEVANCE OF GANDHI – A VIEW FROM NEW YORK
I HAVE LIVED IN THE United States for over sixty years as a student, a United Nations official and, after retirement, a writer.When I arrived here, there were very few people who had studied Gandhi and veryfew books on Gandhi though the life and thought of Gandhi had a significantimpact on the United States since 1921 when the Reverend Dr. John HaynesHolmes preached a sermon that Gandhi was “the greatest man alive in the worldtoday”.Pacifists like him were greatly encouraged by the success of Gandhi in rallyingmillions of people in the nonviolent non-co-operation movement and later the civildisobedience movement in India. Though few in number they were pioneers inmovements for civil liberties, racial equality and other causes. African-Americansfelt proud that a “Coloured man” challenged the mighty British empire and wishedfor the emergence of their own Gandhi to lead them in a struggle for freedom andequality. Nonviolent direct action against racial segregation was attempted by afew brave activists, white and black. Paul Keene, a former missionary in Indiainspired by Gandhi, began organic farming and helped develop it into a major industry. Richard B. Gregg, an associate of Gandhi who sought to interpret Gandhito the West, published
Power of Nonviolence
The Value of Voluntary Simplicity
which became textbooks for civil rights and simple living movements. SeveralAmericans who were acquainted with Gandhi – including prominent churchmenlike John Haynes Holmes, E. Stanley Jones, Howard Thurman and BenjaminMays, as well as Louis Fischer, Vincent Sheean and Edgar Snow - wrote and spokeabout his life and philosophy.