Mahatma Gandhi; do not poison your children

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Mahatma Gandhi; do not poison your children
By Mike Ghouse,

Thanks to Saddahaq and MilliGazette for publishing this in their esteemed journals

Today is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday celebrations known as Gandhi Jayanthi. Dallas is celebrating by erecting a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Irving. A big event today, unfortunately, I won’t be here, but the information is here below.

Mahatma Gandhi did
not say those words, but he meant to see a world where no parent would poison
his or her child with a dose of bigotry. 
Every year on his birthday, I have written a
different aspect of Gandhi, my invisible mentor, and in this essay, I am
focusing on raising our children without bigotry.     When I meet
prejudiced men and women, my first thought goes out to their parents, is this
how they raised these men?  Of course we cannot blame the parents for their
wrong doing, but once you turn 18, you are solely responsible for your

Most kids get rid of their parent’s poisonous expressions
(teaching) towards people of other race, faith, food, fashion, culture, and
sexual orientation; some don’t and suffer all their lives with distrust, fear,
doubts, insecurities and apprehension of the others.  In effect, the parents
have unconsciously messed up their kid; it is a shameful thing to do to your
child and amounts to child abuse.
You can see that
distrust and apprehension on the faces of those who are demonstrating against
children from across the border in Texas. You may have seen it in your own city,
and I have known many instances where gay men were beat up by intolerant
religious nuts in Dallas, the African American men are treated with distrust and
you have seen swastikas marked on Jewish homes or set fire bombs at Mosques and
Churches or vandalize Temples and shoot at Gurdwara Sahib. If these biased attitudes are not checked, it will lead to Massacres,
Genocides and Holocaust destroying families and leaving behind immeasurable
misery.  This is a universal curse, and no nation or a group of people are free
from this. The good news is a majority of people
were taught to be respectful of others; however it is a few who wreak havoc with
their prejudices and make their own lives miserable and are unable to work with
someone who is not like them.

There is a way out – first awareness and
second consciously working to raise our kids to be the best citizens for their
own peace of mind and prosperity.

If you were to know that, upon growing
up, your kid will be working with people from different races, nationalities,
and faiths, what would you do? How would you prepare him or her for such a work
place, college or in public square?  
I asked my friends
on facebook, and here are a few selected responses;

Madhavi Rao writes on facebook, “Every morning this lesson
is on repeat mode, unfortunately I feel trapped at times when I watch adults
misbehave in front of kids & emphasize the opposite of humanity. Their own
kid confides in me how their mom talks ill about
Carol Mason
writes, “It isn’t so much what we say to our
children, it’s the example we set in the way we live our lives from which they
learn the most. Children learn what they live and live what they

me share a few personal examples and I am certain you have similar experiences.
By sharing and spreading these thoughts, we can make more people aware of how we
raise our kids and how to create cohesive societies where no one has to live in
fear of the other.

Dealing with Divorce

When my
first wife and I divorced two decades ago we made a pact that we will not poison
our kids towards the other parent. The idea was if one of us gets killed in an
accident or dies a natural death, it would be difficult for kids to live with
the surviving parent especially if he or she is painted as a bad person.  Thank God, we have carried forward that pact
fairly well. Both of us are at our children’s home for Thanksgiving, Eids,
Christmas, Birthdays, and just about every other month we sit together as
friends and carry on good conversations with the family. We have never messed
the happiness of our kids with our presence; we don’t make any snide remarks nor
say any such thing that affects the joyous family atmosphere. I am glad we made
the pact and have lived through it. It is so easy on our kids and for their
happiness, even if we were to differ, we should not punish our children, and
they need to feel the joy of being with their parents without any tension.   I hope
others can do the same and enjoy their own life and let others enjoy
with communal tensions

father is my hero and opened up the doors of wisdom to us. Pluralism indeed runs
in my family. He taught us one of the biggest lessons of my life in social
cohesiveness and dealing with extremism that I continue to reflect in my talks,
acts, responses and write ups.

the communal riots in Jabalpur (India) in the early sixties, both Muslims and
Hindus were killed in the mayhem, as it happens every time. Everyone was tense
and felt insecure. I wish every father teaches this lesson to his kids. He was
crystal clear and told us that the “individuals” are responsible for the
bloodshed and not the religions.

 If we get the guy who started the conflict and
punish him for disturbing peace, rather than calling it a religious issue for
the communities to jump in and aggravate it further, we would have saved many
lives. He would then emphasize that you cannot blame the intangible religion and
expect justice; we must blame the individuals who caused it and punish him as an
individual accordingly for disturbing the peace and thus bring a resolution to
the conflict by serving justice. He said you cannot annihilate, kill, hang, beat
or bury the religion, then why bark at it? A lot of bias in India can be
dissipated, if we get this message across to our kids.

Minister Modi on Gandhi
Minister Narendra Modi gave a message of hope to Indian Americans gathered in
Madison Square Garden on September 28th.  I am glad to see him put Gandhi on Pedestal,
and he even bowed to Gandhi’s photo on his first day in his office.  He said this about Gandhi very

Mahatma Gandhi succeeded in bringing
freedom to us by making it a people’s movement instead of individual’s
someone teaches a child, he is serving his nation;
If someone feeds the
hungry, he is serving his nation;
If someone keeps the place clean, he is
serving his nation;

He emphasized, Gandhi asked every Indian to do what
he can do to deliver the freedom from illiteracy, hunger, filth and other

Here is my message on
this occasion.

I ask you to be consciously aware of what you say to
your children; if you hate Muslims, Christians, Sikhs or Hindus, your kids will
be permanently impaired to work with people who belong to that faith in the
future, and they will have to work, eat and live with them, so be good to your
kids.  And if you hate Indians,
Pakistanis or others, they will be working with them together on projects in the
near future, make it easy for them.  Even
if you are a bigot, please don’t punish your children with your bigotry.

Let them learn to respect the otherness of others, and accept the God
given uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. If
you are a Hindu you would practice in the idea of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukum –
everyone is your family. If you are a Muslim you would believe in God, that we
are all from the same couple and he chose each one of us to be different and
asked us to learn about each other, and when we do that conflicts fade and
solutions emerge.

After all, good parenting readies children to deal
with future with ease and less pain; it is also about focusing on their
happiness. When you are biased, you happiness is damaged, when you are free from
bias, you are the happiest man or a woman.

I dedicate this
piece to Professor Habib Siddiqi of Dallas, Texas. He is our Wiseman at Urdu Ghar
meetings. Last week, he talked about how poets and writers have brought about
changes in the society and I was inspired by his thoughts to write an article to
raise bigotry-free children. 

Wish a very happy birthday to Mahatma Gandhi. Happy Gandhi

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a
commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender,
race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. All about him is listed in
several links at and his writings are at and 10 other blogs. He is
committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on
issues of the day.

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