I have spent 40 years studying Mahatma Gandhi. He was not the insane man that the most recent piece of fiction suggested but a very complex man, a man of India, a man of Hinduism+Islam, a father and a spinner. He studied with Emmeline Pankhurst, a student with Alice Paul. He entertained royalty and sat with Margaret Sanger. You would be mistaken if you thought that the Quit India Campaign was his project most dear. He was obsessed with digestion and nutrition. And, spiritual seekers know what happens when you sit in silence everyday, spinning or doing anything redundant while holding a high intention.
The fact that Gandhi walked great distances was not so odd, for the poor. He was born very privileged and could have traveled first class but, in doing so, would have missed the poetry and poets that a walk calls near. And it would not have collected the attention of the on-lookers, the readers, the curious, even the naysayers. In his last years he simply stood up and began to walk to Pakistan, to see if he could garner attention about the tragic segregation that was tearing apart Mother India.
Last summer, a New York Blogger wrote a disparaging piece about me and, in it, called me a Gandhian. I don't think I have ever heard anything so wonderful in all my life. Of course you know I care very little about nutrition or spinning; I care about experimenting with truth. I am devoted to all who use their lives to test and adopt the truth, their truth.
Some of the heat I took was because I had mentioned Dan Choi's fast in the context of Gandhi's fasts. Last week we all saw that Dan and others' took a beating by anti-gay people while in Moscow; never hitting back. And, again, I have no hesitation to say that this is in the direct lineage of Pankhurst - Gandhi - Paul - Kramer - and now maybe you. I have no second thoughts about separating the activist from the action - as I would the painter from the painting (yo - Caravaggio). It is these actions of independent bravery - performed for a collective outcome - rising from the heart and soul that defines this lineage.
Walks have a long tradition. Have you ever walked the perimeter of Walden? Or read about Malcolm X's walk on his pilgrimage to Mecca? And today there are two men walking across American on behalf of Equality. Alan Bounville, (http://www.intothelightwalk.com/) is just beginning today in Seattle and Richard Noble (http://walk.usfreedomring.com/) began on March 12, from the Golden Gate Bridge. These are the standard bearers for the Equality Movement. From The Equality Bill to Immigration, every American seeking equality is being both carried and lifted by these two men.
They are taking on the weather, the road, the accolades and the possibility of disapproval manifest. How effective they are as our representatives is entirely up to us. The news circling out like a rock in a pond, the importance will be realized as much as we make their story our story. They are offering their feet, their focus, their very life for the American Equality Movement. We have a responsibility in this. To shine our light, donate a few dollars as the weeks peel by, to tell others in the tribe that this is happening for them but, more over, tell a wider circle that our movement has come this far, become this NOBLE and hopeful.
Indians and the British made Gandhi's walks important. Now it is our turn.
Happy PRIDE, Richard & Alan.
We are so proud of you.