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Writing, Texting, Tweeting, Blogging, and All That Noise

By Rajesh C. Oza Email By Rajesh C. Oza
November 2013
Writing, Texting, Tweeting, Blogging, and All That Noise

SATYALOGUE
with PostModern Gandhiji (PMG)

An advice column offering the Mahatma’s perspective on modern dilemmas

 

Dear PMG,

While it’s illuminating to see the blurb of a quote in each monthly installment of this column, I recently read that Gandhi wrote incessantly. Indeed, the Government of India has a collection of his writings that runs some 90 volumes. I was initially only familiar with his autobiography, but now I’ve learned that Gandhi wrote several other books, edited and contributed to numerous journals, and apparently wrote 70 letters a day for over four decades.

Wow, he would have been quite a blogger!

Given Gandhi’s volubility, I imagine he would have loved the world we live in with all the different avenues for self-expression. Can’t you just see the old saint Tweeting away on his smartphone about an upcoming march for social equality! Who knows, he might have even traded in his famous frugality for the latest iPhone with an unlimited data plan.


Dear Friend,

“My life is its own message. If it is not, then nothing I will now write will fulfill the purpose.” (M. K. Gandhi)

As a karma yogi, Gandhiji was action oriented toward his twin life-objectives of satyagraha (staying firm to the truth) and sarvodaya (universal welfare). I am confident that while very much a man of religion, this prolific writer would have been technology agnostic. Regardless of whether he was putting pen to paper or setting type on a printing press, Gandhiji took to writing as a means, not an end. His goal was not self-promotion, but instead to promote social equality.

Thus, if Twitter was available in the first half of the last century, there would surely have been regular Gandhian streams of 140 characters. And the master communicator would have had no qualms with a never-ending e-mail thread.

But his Tweets, e-mails, texts, or blogs would not have been streams of sewage or streams of consciousness. Far too many modern-day users of social technology embrace it to send unhealthy or unnecessary discourse into the world; this is more accurately categorized as cacophony rather than communication. For Gandhiji, the word “social” in “social technology” would have connoted a social good rather than a social gabfest.

While Satyalogue is usually informed by satyagraha and attempts to hold dear truthful dialogue, this month’s column attempts to rectify the under-exploration of sarvodaya. Gandhiji’s life message, as communicated in his words and actions, was universal uplift of those with the least means of helping themselves. His experiments with sarvodaya-based socioeconomic reform were at multiple levels: global, imperial, national, ashram, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.

Paradoxically, in helping others, he himself experienced personal growth and saint-like wisdom. Though not attributable to Gandhiji, there is a phrase in the sarvodaya movement which he surely would have Tweeted: “As you build the road, the road builds you.” And a dependable gravel road that serves as a path to personal fulfillment and societal sustainability cannot be built upon the drivel of frivolous devices chirping trivial inanities.

[Dr. Rajesh C. Oza serves as a consultant to organizations and individuals requiring change leadership. We invite questions for consideration in the PMG column at raj.oza@sbcglobal.net.]

 


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