Blessed are the peacemakers

When a young Indian attorney attempted to make his first speech in the British court, he was so visibly shaken that he had to sit down in confusion and defeat. He was frightened, and particularly insecure about his English. As a result, his law career in London stumbled badly.

Years before, when he first came to England from India to study, a language teacher of Irish descent made him transcribe the Sermon on the Mount over and over again, purely as an English language exercise.

Hour after hour, day after day, the student wrote "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God," and so on.

These words made a profound and lasting impression on him.

Later, after having developed more confidence as an attorney, he was dispatched to South Africa to collect some huge debts. There, he tried applying the philosophy of the Sermon on the Mount to his cases--and it worked.

As M.K. Gandhi, attorney at law, honed his gift for settling claims peacefully out of court, people began flocking to him.

After moving back to his home country to take on the British Empire, Gandhi proved to the world that the strongest and most effective weapon for fighting systematic injustice are the peaceful principles that he memorized years before.

Gandhi went on to become the 20th-century peace icon.

In fact, five other recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize (including Martin Luther King, Jr.) credited Gandhi and his peaceful protests as their primary source of inspiration.

Light Watkins