“It is wrong and immoral to seek to escape the consequences of one’s acts.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
I grew up on stories of Mahatma Gandhi. My mum used to tell little tidbits all the time. I used to call him Grandpa Gandhi. As a child, I didn’t understand much of what he had done. Or why there was a Mahatma before his name.
Mahatma was a title Rabindranath Tagore (a great Bengali poet, philosopher) bestowed on Gandhi.
(महात्मा mahātmā: महा mahā (great) + आत्मं or आत्मन ātman [soul]. Mahatma is Sanskrit for “great soul”.
To understand we need to look back. Gandhi born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He was a barrister(attorney) by profession. He was influenced heavily by Hindu philosophical texts.
It was in South Africa that Gandhi first faced the full extent of discrimination meted out by the British. And things snowballed from there.
Gandhi started the Satyagraha (Sanskrit: सत्याग्रह satyāgraha) movement. It’s a non-violent movement for civil disobedience/resistance. He didn’t just preach it, he practiced it. He lead by example.
- the Natal Indian resistance in South Africa
- Boycott of British goods
- The now infamous Salt March
- And much more
He was beaten, imprisoned, ridiculed but he stood firm to his purpose and message. He stood firm on how he choose to impact the world. When I reflect on Gandhi today, I realize that it wasn’t a matter of India merely gaining Independence from the British. It was HOW India choose to do so. I feel the how mattered to Gandhi.
He didn’t build a movement to retaliate in kind. He didn’t build a movement that lead to further bloodshed. He retaliated differently. His answer to British violence was non-violence. And that was by design. It wasn’t accidental.
Gandhi knew an all-out war would lead to further bloodshed on both sides and the Indians would probably lose. The war would further embolden the British. But peace? The British had no answer to that. He disarmed the opponent without ever having wielded a physical weapon.
But he did wield a weapon. His weapon was the impact-driven category that he had built. Satyagraha encouraged the individual to make an impact towards the collective. Boycott of British goods encouraged the individual to make an impact. Gandhi was the ultimate impact-driven category designer and movement marketer. From how he dressed, to what he spoke, to the protests he organized, the personified the impact that he wanted to make. He choose to act and he accepted the consequences of his actions.
Impact cannot exist without movement. They are two parts that make a whole. Gandhi’s peaceful civil resistance is practiced to this day. He changed protesting.
Think about it. How many Indians would have volunteered to be a part of a resistance army against the British? How many no matter the suffering would have taken up arms? Not enough to make an impact.
But how many Indians can boycott British goods? How many Indians can march in peaceful protest? Enough to gain independence.
That’s the power of impact-driven category design. It inspires us all to be a part of it. To take action. It inspires unity.
But impact-driven category design requires sacrifice. It requires putting the good of the many before the good of the one. It requires us facing the consequences of our actions. Without impact-design, category creators/designers are free from the consequences of their actions.
The future of our planet will depend on each of us as individuals being able to put the good of the many before the good of the one. Each of us making small sacrifices for collective impact. The future of our planet depends on movements. And movements require impact-driven category design.