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THE SELECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI > Vol. V - THE VOICE OF TRUTH > Part II- Section IV: One World > World of tomorrow
World of tomorrow
Perhaps never before has there been so much speculations about the future as there is today. Will our world always be one of violence? Will there always be poverty, starvation, misery? Will we have a firmer and wide belief in religion, or the world is godless? If there is to be a great change in society, how will that change be wrought? By war, or revolution? Or will it come peacefully? Different men give different answers to these questions, each man drawing the plan of tomorrow’s world as he hopes and wishes it to be. I answer not only out of belief but out of conviction. The world of tomorrow will be, must be, a society based on non-violence. That is the first law: out of it all other blessings will flow. It may seem a distant goal, an impractical Utopia. But it is not in the least unobtainable, since it can be worked for here in now. An individual can adopt the way of life of the future-the non-violent way-without having to wait for others to do so. And if an individual can do it, cannot whole groups of individuals? Whole nations? Men often hesitate to make a beginning, because they feel that the objective cannot be achieved in its entirety. This attitude of mind is precisely our greatest obstacle to progress-an obstacle that each man, if he only wills it, can clear away.
Equal distribution-the second great law of tomorrow’s world as I see it-grows out of non-violence. It implies not that the world’s goods shall be arbitrarily divided up, but that each man shall have the wherewithal to supply his natural needs, no more. As a crude example, if one man requires a quarter-pounds of flour per week and another needs five pounds, each should not be given arbitrarily a quarter pound, or five pounds; both should be able to satisfy their wants.
Here we come to perhaps the most vital question connected with the shaping of tomorrow’s world. How is this equal distribution to be brought about? Must the wealthy be dispossessed of all their holdings?
Non-violence answers no. Nothing that is violent can be of lasting benefit to mankind. Forcible dispossession would deprive society of many great gifts; the wealthy man knows how to create and build; his abilities must not be lost. Instead, he must be left in possession of his wealth so that he may use what he reasonably requires for his personal needs and act as trustee for the remainder, to be expended for the benefit of the society. There have been and are such men. To my mind, as soon as a man looks upon himself as a servant of society, earns for its sake, spends for its sake, then his earnings are good and his business venture is constructive.
But does not this whole idea of non-violence imply a change in human nature? And does history at any time record such a change? Emphatically it does. Many an individual has turned from the mean, personal, acquisitive point of view to one that sees society as a whole and works for its benefit. If there has been such a change in one man, there can be the same change in many.
I see no poverty in the world of tomorrow, no wars, no revolutions, no bloodshed. And in that world there will be a faith in God greater and deeper than ever in the past. The very existence of the world, in a broad sense, depends on religion. All attempts to root it out will fail.
The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, (1967), pp. 458-60