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"Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood" - Albert Einstein on Gandhi

In a few weeks many people throughout the world will celebrate the International Day of Nonviolence.  It is celebrated on October 2nd, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who is widely credited as the father of satyagraha – the philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance.    

I often walk by the Indian Embassy here in Washington, DC.  In front there is a small triangular park with a bronze statue of Gandhi.  Although it’s been 52 years since his death, his wisdom lives on.  Here is a great quote:

Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test: Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away.

Harriet next to the monument to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (photo: Reed)

I was walking by the statue the other day and saw a couple who appeared to be reading the inscription on the base of the statue.  I approached the couple and explained the Year of Giving to them.  The man was very skeptical of my intentions, but his wife, Harriet, was more receptive saying, “I’ve heard about you!  I think I read something in the Washington Post about what you are doing.”

“So, will you accept my $10?” I asked.

The coupled discussed it briefly.  Harriet’s husband continued to be a little suspicious and declined.  She on the other hand seemed willing to take part.  “I’ll do it!” she said with a smile.

Harriet, a 71-year-old resident of the state of Maryland, said that she was going to use the $10 for something she would not normally buy for herself.  “The last time I found some money I bought a wooden sheet music holder that was carved in the shape of a g clef.”

Now retired, Harriet spends her time doing what she loves.  Here in Washington she stays active by taking classes and going to her gym.  Harriet also seems to enjoy visiting far away places.  She spends lots of time visiting her children and seven grandchildren.  She talked about visiting her son in Scotland as well as another trip to.  The couple also lived in Israel for some time.  “I was actually a cow girl while we were living there.  I would spend eight hours a day riding but I had to stop when I got pregnant.”      

 “What time is it?” Harriet asked.  Her husband glanced at his wrist watch and said, “I think we ought to get going.”  Although I didn’t ask specifically, I believe they were attending an event at the Indian Embassy.  

Photo by Reed

Before saying goodbye to the couple I asked Harriet if there was anything that she wanted me to add to the Lend a Hand section.  “Well, there is one thing.  I’d love to find some relatives that live in Wales.  Their last name is Targovnik and they used to live in the city of Cardiff.”  If anyone can find the Targovniks, leave a comment here and maybe Harriet will see it.

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