Mohandas Gandhi, whom most of us know by his honored title of “Mahatma” or “Great Soul,” was killed on this date 69 years ago. So it seems appropriate today to look towards him for knowledge about how to proceed during our divided times.
Yesterday I wrote about how the official US government policies over the past week have not been perceived by the rest of the world as particularly forwarding towards world cooperation. However, is it possible that individual citizens within this country who disagree with these policies could generate a current of love more powerful than any government pronouncement? According to Nipun Mehta, founder of Service Space, an organization that promotes using technology to encourage acts of service and a giving-based economy, of course we can–as long as we leverage the power of Gandhi 3.0.
Gandhi 3.0 is actually the title of an hour-long talk Mehta gave at Emory University on the anniversary of Gandhi’s last birthday (embedded below) about using the Internet to promote Gandhi’s philosophy of social change. It is a both a quick but powerful review of Gandhi’s fundamental principles, along with a discussion about how those principles could be applied in modern American society.
Mehta is of India descent, but was apparently raised in Silicon Valley. In middle school, he began his study of Gandhi as an inspiration and a role model, which, as an adult, led him back to his roots to meet and work with Gandhi’s colleagues, students, and mentors. But as computer science graduate from UC Berkeley, he also brings a modern, technology-enhanced approach to continuing to spread Gandhi’s vision in a materialistic and computer-fascinated Western culture (my description, not his).
As a software guy, he is used to putting version numbers on things. So Gandhi 1.0 was the man himself and the work he did, primarily in India, when he was alive. Gandhi 2.0 was the continuation of his work by people who had known and worked with him, such as Vinoba Bhave, founder of the Bhoodan Movement, who walked from village to village in India and convinced landowners to give away land to the poor without any payment or other recompense.
Mehta’s fascinating twist, however, is to combine that spiritual philosophy with his tech knowledge of current network systems. Gandhi himself, according to Mehta, worked on a TV broadcast model–a one-way, one-to-many model. So in one talk, say, Gandhi might have reached 50 people. His immediate followers, however, work in a telephone model–a two-way, one-to-one model. So, for example, Vinoba was not just the guru everyone listened to; people could interact with Vinoba, and then those people were empowered to interact with others as well. In this way, the same set of 50 people could ultimately reach 1,225 people.
The exciting thing, according to network theory, is that our Internet model enables us to have a many-to-many model, as we become networks interacting instead of individuals (for example, my BlissFullU network and his Service Space network). The power of this model is that same base of 50 people could, through the network model, generate…..drum roll, please….one hundred million TRILLION interactions! (There are formulas to justify these numbers, but you’ll have to watch the video for those.)
Could that counteract just about any official policy the US government might pass? Yes, I think it could. Just imagine the possibilities of that. Mehta says we know this can be done, because it has been done successfully by companies to make a profit. But if a group of committed citizens did it to raise love instead of funds…how might that change the world?
I am, of course, not doing Mehta’s talk justice. He is great to listen to–funny, authentic, well-spoken, profound, compassionate, and passionate. The first twenty minutes or so are a great distillation of Gandhi’s life as a man and a spiritual teacher that is worth hearing, even if you don’t care anything about the Gandhi 3.0 business. Then he takes a while taking about several Gandhi disciples, who are also great role models of ways to transform our world through love. But bringing it back to our modern life in the US and ways to integrate the Gandhi philosophy more into our everyday affairs–that was the most inspirational for me.
So when you have an hour, check it out. I hope you find the possibilities he discusses as exciting as I did!
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