In January 2015, after attending a Making Democracy Real conference in Panchgani, India, I had one singular goal, to get to the Sabarmati Ashram, in Ahmedabad. Traveling by train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, thoughts raced through my head. Whilst everyone else slept, I scribbled notes like a crazy women. New ideas were flowing thick and fast about choices we make in life, about education alternatives, and about me.
At Sabarmati, I was fortunate enough to meditate in the very same place that Gandhiji prayed morning and night. The ideas from the train flourished, consolidated. I was excited! And a new idea floated in through the ether: 'You don’t need to start a new movement. The movement is already out there. You just need to encourage it to grow.'
It was also at Sabarmati that a young Dutch couple wandered in. They looked around, read thoughtfully and carefully, then turned to one of the ashram curators and asked – 'Who was this Gandhi? What does he mean ‘My experiments with truth’'? They had never heard of him. I made a commitment then, that when I returned home I would run my own 'experiments' - peace experiments. Subsequently and over time, I asked many groups of students – 'Tell me about Gandhi.' They could tell me a little – ‘He was a peace-builder,’ ‘He was a social activist,’ ‘We think it was to do with the British,’ 'He wore glasses.’
When I asked those same students to tell me about Hitler – well they could talk for hours. They knew intimate details, family background, quotes, war atrocities, symbolism. I began to ask myself, ‘How is it we seem to know more about the bad stuff and less about the good stuff?’
When I returned to India in May to facilitate at the Education Today, Society Tomorrow conference, afterwards I stayed in Delhi and visited the Gandhi Smriti. Meditating on the fresh, green lawn facing the dignified Gandhi memorial, the name of my new educational project, a project that was set to add new life to an ebbing educational world came to me: The Gandhi Experiment: World peace through education.
The Gandhi Experiment is not about the man himself, it is about the essence of his message: Non-violence as a conscious choice; Satyagraha, my truth or soul-force; and getting off our backsides to take action about those things we know need to change. Where ‘hope in action’ and ‘moving from apathy to action’ become our maxims.
Nelson Mandela told us ‘We all need to rise beyond our own expectations of ourselves.’ This is what The Gandhi Experiment invites us to do.