Truth Is Not a Singularity
One thing I learned from Joan V. Bondurant’s book The Conquest of Violence, is that Gandhi was in search of Truth with a capital T. But I eventually realized that it was SOCIAL Truth he was looking for. And there is no single social truth, because every person’s experience is valid from a certain perspective; and every person experiences the world in a different way.
That means that there are 6 billion social truths out there; and there are even more than that, because those six billion individuals also experience reality as a couple, as a family, as a group of friends, as a neighborhood, as a community, as a nation, as a culture, as a religion, as Miles Davis fans . . . ad infinitum.
Gandhi was looking for a Truth that cut through all these differences. And that truth was Justice in a given social situation.
In other words, Truth with a capital T can only be discovered through our social interactions. And it’s always relative. Always.
When it comes to Social Reality, there’s never just one truth.
The Truth is this: when some people suffer through the actions of other people, it’s never right or fair. It may be unintentional, but that doesn’t alter the equation. Some people are suffering, and other people are causing their suffering. That was the Truth Gandhi was searching for—-justice between people. And he claimed that there’s only one reliable road to that Truth.
But the above is just a small sliver of his philosophy. It’s more complex than that. But at the same time it’s simple. It reminds me of the line from Amadeus, where Salieri said:
” . . . music, finished as no music is ever finished. Displace one note and there would be diminishment. Displace one phrase and the structure would fall.”
Gandhi’s satyagraha is like that. It’s a continual effort to find balance in a given social situation. Once you understand the strategy and dynamics of his philosophy, it’s very simple to understand and apply. But the social world is a very complex system. Satyagraha only works if it is continually adapted to changing circumstances. That’s where the challenge lies.
But no one simplified that challenge like Gandhi. And no one simplified Gandhi like Bondurant. In fact, Bondurant explains Gandhi better than Gandhi explained Gandhi. It took someone of her superior intellect to untangle all of the sometimes confusing threads of Gandhi’s unique wisdom.
Gandhi was a force of nature. Bondurant was like a quantum physicist who successfully analyzed and explained that force
The Conquest of Violence: The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, by Joan V. Bondurant