- Wealth without work
- Pleasure without conscience
- Knowledge without character
- Commerce without morality
- Science without humanity
- Worship without sacrifice
- Politics without principle
Gandhi called these imbalances passive violence, which fuels the active violence of crime, rebellion, and war. He said, “We could work ’til doomsday to achieve peace and would get nowhere as long as we ignore passive violence in our world”. Arun, the grandson of Gandhi, later added an eighth blunder: Rights without responsibilities. Gandhi gave the list to Arun in 1947.
Today, these blunders are a part of our society and of our day-to-day life. These are no longer considered blunders and we are no longer embarrassed by them. We in fact, actively practice them and even take pride in some of them. From Wall Street to state lotteries, we entice ourselves with the promise of wealth without work. Whole sectors of the economy offer pleasure without conscience. Many scientists believe their greatest strength is their ability to separate their knowledge from their character and their science from their souls. Advocate serious morality in a commercial context (away from the PR department) and you will be laughed out of a job. Morality? It might be nice to take the high road, but our competitors won’t. So forget it! Insiders in Washington and other capitals speak openly of their ability to cut political deals in a world totally without principle. That’s how it works in this town, they say, and they’re not apologizing or regretting; they’re boasting. Religious movements seem to support possessiveness and self-righteousness, never noticing the passages that urge sacrifice, sharing, compassion, humility, forgiveness.
Somehow our public discussion has become dominated by either-or simplicities. If you complain about commerce without morality, you are accused of being against commerce. Suggest bringing humanity back into science, and you’re anti-scientific. Say there’s something wrong with wealth without work, and you’re class-jealous, a hater of rich people, an underminer of capitalism. Murmur that worship might require sacrifice, and you are suddenly an enemy of religion.
Simplistic thinking seems incapable of embracing the idea of BALANCE, which was Gandhi’s central point. He wasn’t calling for work without wealth or humanity without science, he was calling for work AND wealth. Science AND humanity. Commerce AND morality. Pleasure AND conscience. Listen to our public debates about health care, crime, taxation, regulation. You will hear the Gandhian blunders. There’s no point in taking sides in these debates. There’s only an opportunity to point out that balance, discovered through love, is what we should be seeking — and what we will always have to be seeking.