How anger can be light

Arun Gandhi was 12 years old when he and his family visited his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi.

Arum struggled to be a Gandhi, to live up to his famous grandfather’s name and reputation. “Peace and stillness did not come easily to me,” he remembers.

One day, when another boy shoved him during a soccer game, Arun became angry. Ashamed of his temper, he ran to his grandfather with tears in his eyes. He was surprised to learn that the great Gandhi sometimes got angry, too.

The grandfather explained that anger is like electricity. It “can strike, like lightning, and split a living tree in two….Or, it can be channeled, transformed….Then, anger can illuminate. It can turn darkness into light.”

I heard Arun Gandhi talk about his new book Grandfather Gandhi recently at the Texas Book Festival in Austin.

“Anger is not evil,” Arun Gandhi explained. “Anger is fuel. What is evil is the way we abuse anger. We have to learn how to use our anger constructively.”

But, he added, this is not something that you can learn in one day.

Gandhi and his co-author Bethany Hegedus are asking children and adults to take a pledge that they call “Live Your Life as Light.”
I pledge to listen to my anger, to see what it has to teach me.
I pledge to not bully or cause harm, with words or weapons.
I pledge to look for the light, to see it in every situation.

As Hegedus explains, “It is our hope, Arun’s and mine, that we each look inside to see where our anger, shame and fear hides. And when we do so, that we lovingly channel those feelings into positive action. Each time we choose to act rather than react, to sit instead of strike, to listen instead of shout, we work to create peace.”

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