Gandhi’s Big Idea
At a recent Connections session in Manchester, participants discussed the book Gandhi, a March to the Sea written by Alice McGinty with illustrations by Thomas Gonzalez. New to our book list and an instant hit, this luminous picture book tells the story of Gandhi’s 1930 march to the Arabian Sea to protest the British-imposed salt tax. Gandhi’s simple act of collecting salt from the mudflats led to his arrest, and the subsequent arrests of nearly 60,000 protesters, and launched the nonviolent movement for Indian independence known as Satyagraha.
Connections participant Gil Moussavi of Manchester had these reflections on Gandhi after reading the book:
“Gandhi had a big idea, but he was not a simple man.
He knew that if he fought for freedom from the English with violence, he would be crushed. So he got a big idea and created the nonviolent movement. Gandhi was a genius for strategy – he knew that everything he did was symbolic from the food he ate to the woven cloth he wore, to prove that Indians could be completely independent of British rule. The salt in the book we read represents what is essential to life. For Indians to control salt was symbolic of them controlling their destiny.
“Throughout the ages, there have been these movements and revolutions and always [they centered around] big ideas. Every revolution takes a new philosophy and in order to change now, we need to change the mind of the world. It is time for a new way for the world to organize – to take up a new philosophy – a global change in the way we think and a new awareness which will lead to global leadership and cooperation. This needs to be a governing philosophy that is not about money and the pursuit of riches, but rather a way that includes all people.”
Morteza “Gil” Moussavi was a city planner in Iran and immigrated to the United States after the revolution in 1979.
He and his family chose to settle in Manchester, New Hampshire, because of its size, proximity to Boston, and natural surroundings. Gil studies English at Manchester Adult Learning.
New Hampshire Humanities’ adult literacy program Connections brings the best of children’s and young adult literature and New Hampshire Humanities-trained discussion facilitators to more than 500 adult learners each year. Quality books and stimulating discussions promote English language skills, cultivate conversations about ideas, reinforce family literacy, support a culture of reading, and encourage civic engagement. Connections works in partnership with adult basic education and ESOL classes, refugee resettlement organizations, services for adults with developmental disabilities and state and county prisons. Participants are both native speakers and new Americans.