>>> Mahatma Gandhi’s son Manilal Gandhi moved to South Africa to carry on the work his father had left behind – fight against injustice and discrimination. One day, Manilal had a daylong meeting in Johannesburg and he asked his son, Arun Gandhi, to drive him there.
Arun thought this would be a good opportunity to also get his car serviced. They left for the meeting in the morning. In Arun’s words:
I dropped my father off for his meeting and got the car to the garage by one. Since it was a long time until five o’clock, I figured I could go to the movies, which I did. That day there was a double feature being shown, and when I got out I checked my watch and realized that it was past five o’clock!
I rushed to the corner where my father had said he would be waiting for me, and when I saw him there, standing in the rain, I tried to think of excuses I could make. I rushed up to him and said, ‘Father, you must forgive me. It is taking them longer to repair the automobile than I thought it would take, but if you wait here I will go and get the car. It should be ready by now.’
My father bowed his head and looked downward. He stood for a long moment and then he said, ‘When you were not here at our meeting time I called the garage to see why you were late. They told me that the automobile was ready at three o’clock. Now I have to give some thought as to how I have failed, so as to have a son who would lie to his own father. I will have to think about this, so I am going to walk home and use the time during my walk to meditate on this question.’
I followed my elderly father home that rainy, misty night, watching him stagger along the muddy road. I rode behind him with the headlights of the car flashing ahead of his steps. And as I watched him stumbling towards home, I beat on the steering wheel and said over and over, ‘I will never lie again! I will never lie again! I will never lie again!'
What struck me as particularly interesting in this story was how Manilal didn’t shame his son, he didn’t start shouting at him or telling him how Arun had failed him as a son. Instead, he seemed to have understood one thing clearly: children do love their parents. They may act or behave otherwise but deep down they love their parents and need their parents’ love and presence in their lives. We can never inspire anyone to do anything by creating fear in their minds or by shaming them. We may force a child – or even an adult – to do something and they may do it well temporarily, but to instill in them a lifelong habit or to inspire them, love remains the only potent weapon. And no, by this I don’t mean mollycoddling. I simply mean embracing a sense of acceptance.
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