I used to say that my three biggest heroes of the 20th century were Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Churchill. Then I visited Ireland and discovered what Churchill had done there. I read further about Churchill’s actions in South Africa, and about how adamant Churchill was about continuing Britannica’s empire after WWII. So my reassessment of Churchill is that he was a major hero of WWII, but not much else.
About Martin Luther King (MLK): So he had affairs. Perhaps lots of them. It doesn’t bother me that much. Did it affect his commitment to the oppressed and the poor? Not that I can see. In my books, he was and is a great man. I doubt that I could have remained non-violent as he did, if I had experienced all that he had.
Now I come to Gandhi. MLK idolized Gandhi. So had I. I have now visited three Gandhi museums/memorials. There is one more in Tamil that I have yet to visit.
In 1993, I visited the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi. I arrived first thing on Monday morning, and I had the entire small museum to myself. I was most touched by the life-sized diorama of Gandhi’s possessions at the end of his life. Everything he owned weighed less than 15 kilos total. Two changes of clothes, his spectacles, bowl, utensils, and of all things, his cotton-spinning top. He made his clothes and wove the cotton for them. He himself washed them by hand. He insisted on doing it this way, for as he stated, “My life is my statement.”