BK Blog Post
Posted by Michael Nagler.
Michael is founder and president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence and the author of Our Spiritual Crisis and The Search for a Nonviolent Future, which received a 2002 American Book Award and has been translated into several languages.
“The German Jews will score a lasting victory over the German Gentiles in the sense that they will have converted the latter to an appreciation of human dignity.” Harijan, November 26, 1938
Here we enter on one of Gandhi’s most controversial claims, that even in the crucible of the holocaust it would be theoretically possible for the Jews of Europe to mount, as he goes on to put it, “a truly religious resistance . . . against the godless fury of dehumanized man.” It is no unwarranted claim that it would have converted the Nazis to “as appreciation of human dignity.” We always respond to the highest, no matter how badly conditioned we may have been when we encounter it. We now know from cases like the Rosenstrasse Prison Demonstration of 1943 and the sacrifice of Father Maximilian Kolbe, the “Saint of Auschwitz,” that such conversions do take place, even among the most brutally dehumanized. What Gandhi is not saying is that this would have happened fast enough and on a large enough scale to arrest the holocaust. The “lasting victory” he speaks of is of the heart. Even that, however, should never be under-appreciated.
Thanks for sharing a comment below.
Stephanie Van Hook, the Metta Center’s executive director, launched Daily Metta in 2015 as a way to share Gandhi’s spiritual wisdom and experiments with nonviolence.
Our 2016 Daily Metta continues with Gandhi on weekdays. On weekends, we share videos that complement Michael Nagler’s award-winning book, The Search for a Nonviolent Future: A Promise of Peace for Ourselves, Our Families, and Our World. To help readers engage with the book more deeply, the Metta Center offers a free PDF study guide.