Mahatma Gandhi on littleness and difference (1919)

To G.S. Arundale; August 4 1919:   Let there be no mistake. Civil resistance has come to stay. It is an eternal doctrine of life which we follow consciously or unconsciously in many walks of life. It is the new and extended application of it which has caused misgivings and excitement. Its suspension is designed to demonstrate its true nature, and to throw the responsibility for the removal of the Rowlatt legislation on the Government as also the leaders (you among them) who have advised me to suspend it. 

But if within a reasonable time the legislation is not removed, civil resistance will follow as surely as day follows night. No weapon in the Government armoury can either overcome or destroy that eternal force. Indeed a time must come when civil resistance will be recognized as the most efficacious, if also the most harmless, remedy for securing redress of grievances.

You suggest the desirability of unity. I think unity of goal we have. But parties we shall always have and we may not find a common denominator for improvements. For some will want to go further than some others. I see no harm in a wholesome variety. 

What I would rid ourselves of is distrust of one another and imputation of motives. Our besetting sin is not our differences but our littleness. We wrangle over words, we fight often for shadow and lose the substance. As Mr. Gokhale used to say, our politics are a pastime of our leisure hours when they are not undertaken as a stepping stone to a career in life.

I would invite you and every editor to insist on introducing charity, seriousness and selflessness in our politics. And our disunion will not jar as it does today. It is not our differences that really matter. It is the meanness behind that is undoubtedly ugly… 

Source: Home The Selected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (Vol. IV) Selected Letters (Complete Book Online) SECTION ONE: SELECTED LETTERS To G.S. Arundale. 33A. To G.S. Arundale, August 4 1919

Two AV talks:

Love at Work: Mahatma Gandhi’s Last Struggle