(from the archives)
Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948) spent 2,338 days (nearly six and a half years) in British jails. Far from considering it punishment, however, Gandhi chose to use his imprisonment as an extended time for reflection and writing. The result was that no human in recent history had greater influence on our world through a course of non-violence – having led a fifth of the world’s population to independence – than Mohandas Gandhi.
“Next to life itself,” says Stephen Covey, “the power to choose is your greatest gift.” Every human being, regardless of circumstances, is granted the gift to choose. Most readers of this message chose what to wear today from a wide array of garments hanging in the closet, and chose from a variety of foods in the pantry what to eat for breakfast. We may take this somewhat for granted, but most of us are probably grateful for these choices. Choice, however, is not limited to the privileged Western middle-class. Consider the opposite extreme. Those for instance, who suffered the atrocities, abuse, disease and starvation of the concentration camps either chose to share and help their fellow prisoners, or they chose to focus on self survival. Though difficult to imagine, the gift of choice, limited though it may have been, still existed within those horrendous conditions.
Covey, in his definition, uses the word “power”, for we are indeed empowered by the gift of choice. Covey goes on to say the following: “This power and freedom stand in stark contrast to the mind-set of victim-ism and culture of blame so prevalent in society today. . . . . Your power to choose the direction of your life allows you to reinvent yourself, to change your future, and to powerfully influence the rest of creation. It is the one gift that enables all the gifts to be used; it is the one gift that enables us to elevate our life to higher and higher levels.”
Gandhi changed the world, and freed twenty percent of humanity through non-violent actions. He became an agent of change because of his power to choose. The choices we make produce the results in our lives. The mechanism for making choices, however, originates in a deeper place. It is the power to choose.