Reflections on Gandhi


Orwell, George




British author George Orwell was born in India in 1903 and wrote many essays and stories about that country. He is best known now for his two novels of political satire, Animal Farm and 1984. In this essay Orwell considers the life of Gandhi, the great political and spiritual leader whose campaign of non-violent resistance brought about India's independence from Britain. While clearly admiring Gandhi, Orwell's provocative essay proposes limits to non-violent resistance and even suggests that the roots of Gandhi's theory of "non-attachment" to material things might lie in a "desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love."

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Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays, George Orwell (Harcourt, 1984).




Faith and BeliefLeadership and ResponsibilityLove and Compassion

Big Questions

How does what we believe affect our actions in the world?What is the relationship between faith and service, justice and/or poverty?How does a person become a leader?What do we expect from the people we lead? What do we expect from our own leaders?How do we define love? How do we show love?Should we love the people we serve?


Hearing the Call Across Traditions

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think of the speaker's questions about Gandhi's motivations?
  2. What is the purpose of "judging a man like Gandhi"?
  3. What does the speaker reveal about Gandhi?
  4. How does knowing Gandhi's personal life and beliefs make you feel about such an iconic figure?
  5. What does this piece suggest about non-violent methods?
  6. In your professional life, what method do you use to promote social ethics?
  7. How do your personal ethics influence your professional perspective?
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