Fulfills diversity requirement.
Mohindas K. Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. are two of the most revered figures of the 20th century, remembered today more as symbols than as men. Freedom, nonviolence, civil rights, peace, justice, equality, love: the themes and the values associated with these men read like a wish-list of humanity's highest aspirations. They were revolutionaries, taking on and forever altering two of the most powerful nations of the modern era. As Martin Luther King sparked a social transformation in America Gandhi spurred the British out of India. But part of the reason why history elevates these two figures above so many other modern era revolutionaries is that their political agendas were primarily spiritual. Gandhi and King, more than anyone in recent memory, stepped into the world of politics and power for the sake of justice and the oppressed, motivated by their beliefs in a God of love and harmony.
Yet in all this, Gandhi and King were also merely men - flawed, unsure of themselves, prone to misjudgments and mistakes - whose reputations have made false saints out of them, presenting them as more perfect than they ever really could have been.
A look at these two men's lives gives us opportunity to explore a number of themes. This class is not primarily a history class. Instead of focusing on the autobiographies of Gandhi and King the class is organized along four key topics. First we will consider the historic problem that eventually birthed the movement of both Gandhi and King: European colonialism. Second, we'll look at how both thinkers rooted their social thought and political movements in their particular theologies. Third, we'll explore the philosophy and politics of nonviolence: its purposes, effectiveness, etc. Fourth, we'll look at how both men were actually aiming for greater visions of peace and justice for human society that never came to fruition. Throughout the course the grand theme will be the same that ultimately preoccupied the lives of Gandhi and King: how do love, justice and power sit together?