“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Ghandi
March 12th 1930. An unassuming man sets out on a 240 mile march that takes 24 days. He is heading for the sea near the village of Dandi in India. He is going there to break the law. As he walks growing numbers of people join him and walk peacefully with him, so that by the time they get there the group is big enough to be drawing serious attention. At 6.30am on April 6th, the man takes sea water and dries it to make salt, in direct contravention to the laws of the British colonists who insist on taxing all salt production. This one act sparks off large scale civil disobedience against the British Raj Salt Laws by millions of India’s poor, who are tired of being taxed to death. The man and his group continue south along the coast, making salt along the way until he is at last arrested at midnight on May 4th. The nationwide civil disobedience results in the jailing of another 80 000 citizens. Although the action does not result in major concessions immediately, it becomes a big part of India’s break for independence from the British, and teaches the world that ‘passive resistance’, in this case in the form of civil disobedience, is a powerful method for bringing about change.
The man of course was Mahatma Gandhi, who, according to Wikipedia “was the pre-eminent political and ideological leader of India during the Indian independence movement. A pioneer of resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience—a philosophy firmly founded upon total nonviolence—Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. He is internationally esteemed for his doctrine of nonviolent protest to achieve political and social progress.” Gandhi was definitely one of my heroes. Regardless of his political importance he chose a simple life existing with no more than he needed, and focusing on the important things. You might have passed him in the street and not even seen him. Despite his simplistic lifestyle, he taught the world a lot about standing up to the ‘big guy’ in a peaceful manner … and yet winning.
Here’s another ‘simple person’. Mother Teresa. Again according to Wikipedia, Mother Teresa “was a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, in 1950. For over 45 years, she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity’s expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries.” Another person who lived sparsely and dedicated themselves to a higher mission, helping the disadvantaged even though in the end her efforts probably cost her her health and her life. I remember that she died a day after Princess Diana, and you barely heard anything about her death because of all the hype over Diana. Probably just the way she would have wanted it.
Then there was the David and Goliath story, and if you look for them there are a hundred and one examples of the smallest, simplest person having a massive effect on the world around them. How is that? Is it possible that the smallest and simplest person isn’t always the weakest competitor?
I think the little people in this world, physically and lifestyle-wise have the edge. For a start others often don’t expect anything much from them, so they’re taken by surprise. You don’t expect the smallest mountain to produce the biggest volcanic eruption. Then there’s the idea that ‘still waters run deep’. In other words, quiet people often have a lot of gumption within that isn’t always visible on the outside. Just think, if someone isn’t spending all their energy waving a stick about and looking big, what are they spending their energy on? Sometimes they’re spending it on actually getting bigger – on the inside. They are often focussing on the important stuff instead of wasting time with external appearances. Not that I’m advocating physical violence or anything but this video on YouTube – in which a school girl defends herself against a would-be mugger – made me smile: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuHHB-uF-UEn why don’t you pick on someone your own size, buddy?
Additionally, I remember reading in Eckhart Tolle’s ‘The Power of Now’ or it might have been ‘A New Earth’ something to the effect that the most spiritually or metaphysically effective people are very often those that you would pass in the street and not notice, due to their unassuming nature. And that if you are a more metaphysically/spiritually aware person you’re more likely to see them and appreciate their degree of connection, whereas those of us more physical and wrapped up in life’s irrelevancies won’t even notice them, or would probably dismiss them as unworthy of attention.
So how do you see yourself? Do you ever quietly feel that you’re nothing much? You might be bigger than you allow yourself to realise. What hidden skills do you have? Who are you really? You may be small fry on the outside, but as long as you’re mighty big on the inside … well that’s what matters isn’t it? If you’ve ever day-dreamed of changing the world for the better, now’s your time!
There’s a fantastic quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
When would now be a good time to shine out, and do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing? You don’t need to get a fancy shmancy sports car or wear big brand labels to change the world, though if those things give you a kick and you can have them, that’s good too! Why waste energy trying to be what other people want, when you are amazing just the way you are? Be yourself. All of yourself, undiluted. Big or little, it’s time each of us found our own personal brilliance and set it free to soar.
I’m going forth to have a brilliant week – you have one too!