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New York Daily Photo: Influences
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Monday, 7 April 2008


Union Square can always be depended on as a locus for political activism. Saturday afternoon was the Be the Change walk - the initiation of a month long tribute to Mohandas K. Gandhi. The walk started in four different locations and ended in Union Square near the Gandhi statue, where a number of speakers were present for the commemoration including composer Philip Glass, the author Mark Kurlansky and author/activist Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou. There was also a traditional flower petal ceremony. The Iraq war was, of course, foremost in the minds of the participants, many of whom carried large signs with quotes from Gandhi: Outer Peace is useless without inner peace and An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
Gandhi is generally seen as a pioneer in the use of civil disobedience on a wide political scale - both in South Africa and India. Along with King, many others have credited Gandhi as being a major influence: Albert Einstein who exchanged letters with him, anti-apartheid political activist and former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and former U.S. Vice-President and environmentalist, Al Gore.
This walk also coincided with the assassination of Martin Luther King (April 4th, 1968). In 1999, Time Magazine named King as one of the Children of Gandhi and spiritual heirs to non-violence.
Influences trickle down and are transformed, adapted and built upon for time, place and use. Even those who are extraordinarily creative or provided seminal roles have had influences - one of Gandhi's was the classic essay, Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, first published in 1849. But that's another story ...

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