In his speech “Economic and Moral Progress” Mohandas Gandhi focuses on distinguishing economic and moral progress. From his years of studies and beliefs he recognizes that economic and moral progress is often being interchangeable. Mohandas Gandhi who is not officially a politician, but a spiritual leader was more than happy to speak of this situation for he was a strong believer in morality, and saw that they do not go hand in hand. In this speech, he uses a combination of stories, rhetorical questions, quotes from The Bible, and a quote from a famous British scientist to grab the audience’s attention as well as to emphasize his points and beliefs. There is a difference between moral and economic progress to Gandhi, and I cannot agree more.
Gandhi views moral and economic progress as two different aspects. Gandhi makes the assumption that when economic progress is heard; it is referred to materialistic goods. The more materials owned the richer the country as well as the person will be. When Gandhi refers to moral progress, he rhetorically asks “Does not moral progress increase in the same proportion as material progress?” What he tries to get at when asking this question is; materials, which goes hand in hand with economic progress, makes people feel good/rich inside. Gandhi sees moral progress having the same effect. He gives first hand examples where he went to South Africa to ask the people of that country about economic and moral progress. He discovered that the people of South Africa said the greater the possession of riches, the greater was their moral turpitude. In other words they believe that if you are rich then it is shameful of how selfish you could be, if you do not share the wealth or live modestly, and live the flashy lifestyle exposing your selfishness. Gandhi explains that people should still have their goal to pursue wealth in life, but if achieving wealth for materials is the goal then we are going downhill as humans when talking about moral progress. Gandhi states that “Western nations today are groaning under the hell of the monster-god of materialism. Their moral growth has become stunted” (Gandhi 337). He strongly believes that people of the Islamic, Jewish and Christian religions kind of put materials over religion as far as being successful or happy. We should always keep our morals our priorities before any other distractions. If not then we are lost as humans. Quoting the Bible was an attention-grabbing strategy too because it showed his international intelligence especially as a believer and follower of Hinduism. He refers to a time when Jesus was explaining to one on how to achieve eternal life, you have to value your morals first which is GOD, knowing the Ten Commandments, and of course giving to the poor. Another way Mohandas Gandhi grabs the audience’s attention is by stating what Alfred Russel Wallace, a British naturalist, has to say about morality. Wallace states that since his country has gained power and wealth, and put it before nature and Christianity, he describes it as unprecedented. “…how as the country has rapidly advanced in riches, it has gone down in morality. He shows this by dealing with insanitation, life-destroying trades, adulteration, bribery and gambling. He shows how, with the advance of wealth, justice has become immoral, deaths from alcoholism and suicide have increased…” (Wallace 338). “…we shall show more truth than gold, greater fearlessness than pomp of power and wealth, greater charity than love of self. If we will but clean our houses, our palaces and temples…and show in them the attributes of morality, we can offer battle to any combinations of hostile forces without having to carry the burden of a heavy militia” (Wallace 338). Overall, Wallace is saying since the growth of riches, the morality has gone down and that is imperative to put morals in front of materials gained through wealth.
The closest person to Mohandas Gandhi we have thus far in my beliefs was Martin Luther King Jr. We all know Martin Luther King led the Civil Rights Movement for the equality of African Americans in the United States. He did so in a non-violent way, and put a huge emphasis on peace. What inspired him was when he visited Gandhi’s home in India in 1959. The mission shaped King’s view on how to approach the current situation taking place in the United States by pursuing it in a non-aggressive way. King once stated on radio “Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity… Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation” (King). It’s sad to see people like King and Gandhi die the way they did. Both stood up for not only for what was right for their people, but also for the lack of morality people on this earth had. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi were both assassinated.
My family was not raised in a fancy or wealthy part of town. We grew up pretty modestly, almost as modest as you can get. We lived tightly financially. My father worked very hard at work, and my mother was an even harder working teacher. We never had any extra things come our way. We had very few clothes, we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we attended school, and we played with our friends around our neighborhood. Never went on any vacations, never had the latest shoes, never wore designer clothing, none of that. My mother made it important that we go to church every Sunday. As far as my family goes, we were always thankful for what and who we had. I believe it is difficult to find a modest family like mine nowadays. Not saying we are perfect because we are the farthest from it. But as far as materials go, you always see wealthy people buying unnecessary things that they do not need. Most rich people forgot what their morals were growing up because of their fortunate situation now. I believe that donating money to those less fortunate is a must. I always said that if I ever become rich, I’d donate to my hometown, and would do my very best to not get caught up in the flashy lifestyle. I strongly believe that money is the route to evil. Nowadays, we have secret societies where millionaires sell their soul for fame and fortune because it is going to make them richer. If I ever am blessed with being in a situation where I’m well off, I have my whole family reminding me not to get caught up and to remember where I came from. By making sure I do this, I will keep GOD, and the rest of my morals first in my life before all the extras.