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Marcellin and Gandhi

Essay by   •  November 27, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,988 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,338 Views

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How Religious Beliefs and Values have the power to Address Problems of Social Injustice and inspire us in our Own Lives.

In the world that we live in today, nothing is more powerful than religious beliefs and values in society. Wars are fought and won over them, communities are brought closer because of them, and they transcend race, class and all social restraints. Religious beliefs and values have the power to address problems of social injustice and inspire us in our own lives. This can be seen though the analysis of great religious figures in the western and non western world, such as Marcellin Champagnat and Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi.

These people had amazing amounts of faith in their beliefs and values and they inspired them, and the many that would follow in their footsteps, for centuries to come.

Marcellin was a man of great religious faith. This immense value of religion was obtained in his early years of his life. Born on May 20, 1789, he was surrounded by a very religious Christian family of ten. His mother, Marie-Therese Chirat, was a woman of strong and robust faith and Marcellin obtained a strong religious value from her, and his aunt, who was a sister of St. Joseph. His mother often accompanied Marcellin to the shrine of her favourite saint, St Francis Regis when he was having difficulties with his seminary studies. This events and people in his early life would have shaped his values system enormously. As a child growing up, his values system was still developing; he was still learning what was wrong and what was right. Being exposed to his mother's values surely shaped his beliefs and values into that which was to be the founder of a great brotherhood such as the Marist Brothers.

Mahatma Gandhi's religious values came slightly later in life, and from a different kind of source. After beginning his studies as a lawyer at the age of 19, he visited Paris during school breaks. On his travel he studied the sacred book of the Hindus, the, Bhagavad-Gita, for the first time. Always a devout Hindu, having no alcohol or women, he was nevertheless influenced by what he read. On the same trip he also read books on western philosophy, the Bible and other religious works. These text would've no doubt influenced Gandhi's values, to be accepting of other religions as well as his own. This would later lead Gandhi to his struggle between the Hindus and Muslims over the separation of India and many other religion based problems Gandhi would have tried to solve through his own passive resistance called Satyagraha.

Marcellin was born in a farming community of just twelve houses at Le Rosey in 1789 in France in the wake of the French revolution. He always believed in the value of physical labour, a value obtained in his early years growing up in this community. This stayed with him throughout his life and was reflected in all his work, where he was always prepared to lead by example in order to inspire others to follow.

This was reflected in the building of the Hermitage, where the Marist brothers, including Marcellin himself, did most of the physical labour required in the building process, including chiselling out some of the cliff face that overhung the building site. Marcellin was prepared to lead by example and undertake the work himself in order for his brothers to follow and be inspired to work harder.

Mahatma Gandhi was born into a rich and successful family in Porbandar, West India in 1869, and, like Marcellin, was an inspirational figure. Unlike the devotedly Catholic Marcellin, Gandhi was a Hindu, and his reputation spread over religious circles of every religion, as he fought politically for people of every race and nation, accepting others religions aswell.

Gandhi too believed in the value of physical labour, and this was shown in his later life when he began a small, simple community in protest of British rule in South Africa. This community, or Ashram, had to generate its own food, clothing, shelter and water, as Gandhi campaigned his passively resistance, eventually names Satyagraha, protesting against the Western way of life in South Africa and urged others to stop wearing Western clothing and to spin their own cloths as Gandhi did.

Gandhi was also prepared to lead by example, saying that he would never urge someone else to do something unless he was already doing it.

Another value that is common both to Marcellin and Gandhi is that of charity.

Marcellin was a man of great compassion- for the youth, the poor, orphans, the sick, the elderly, the dying and the disadvantaged; he worked most of his life towards helping people less fortunate in education and health.

This value of charity can come down two of the most important event in

Marcellin's life. The first was when he was ordained a priest and assigned to a town, La Valla, in the district of St. Chamond, where the priest in charge was alcoholic, and so too was the schoolmaster, as well as a gambler. The children were under-educated and being exploited by the owners of the local weaving mills. Marcellin worked to help to educate these children and establish the church and school to a respectable position.

The second one came when he was called to the bed of a dying man, Jean-Baptiste Montagne. Marcellin was shocked to discover that the young man knew nothing of the Catholic religion and so prepared him for his sacraments and last rites. Later that day, Montagne died, and although this event may not have been as significant at the time, many followers today are convinced that this was to be the most influential experience in Marcellin's life. It would later inspire him to follow his calling of founding the Marist brothers, to be an institute of teaching brothers dedicated to the Christian instruction and education of young people like Montagne.

These events inspired Marcellin to take up a life of charitable work to help people of all walks of life and strive for social justice; that every child should know of religion and be taught from an early age. "I can never see a child without telling him how much God loves him," Marcellin once said. Marcellin worked for this cause of social justice, by founding the Marist brothers to give children the opportunity for basic education and education in the Catholic faith.

Gandhi, too, was a man of great charity. For most of his life, he pursued justice for the oppressed, the poor and the racially discriminated. He went to South Africa in 1893 and was appalled at the racial discrimination present by the British-ruled nation. As a lawyer, he knew of basic human rights, and protested this discrimination in

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