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I was too proud to heed my wife's warning. But I dared not go against the opinion of my mother and my eldest brother. Nevertheless I pleaded with them saying, 'I know he has the weaknesses you attribute to him, but you do not know his virtues. He cannot lead me astray, as my association with him is meant to reform him. For I am sure that if he reforms his ways, he will be a splendid man. I beg you not to be anxious on my account. 'I do not think this satisfied them, but they accepted my explanation and let me go my way. I have seen since that I had calculated wrongly. A reformer cannot afford to have close intimacy with him whom he seeks to reform.
Through this simple example Gandhi expresses his own humility, for accepting a friendship that he was warned against, accepting his own fault in doing so, and lastly expressing his belief in the reforming value of human nature. He also attests to the idea that personal sacrifices, for others are essential to human goodness, and yet there can be tragedy in this sacrifice. He is also very well-known for fasting as a political statement, to resolve conflicts and social wrongs.
Black Elk Speaks also demonstrates these same universal expression, humility, faith, the good of humanity and the need for personal sacrifice. The opening remarks by Black Elk demonstrate a case for humility, as it takes a long time for the researcher to convince Black Elk to tell his story, and when he does so he says he is telling the story of many men, not just his own. He simplifies his life to an extreme that is very representative of humility.
MY friend, I am going to tell you the story of my life, as you wish; and if it were only the story of my life I think I would not tell it; for what is one man that he should make much of his winters, even when they bend him like a heavy snow? So many other men have lived and shall live that story, to be grass upon the hills.It is the story of all life that is holy and is good to tell, and of us two-leggeds sharing in it with the four-leggeds and the wings of the air and all green things; for these are children of one mother and their father is one Spirit.
He then invokes the ceremony of the pipe, as was described in the earlier quote and proceeds to tell the story of the interconnected nature of life and man.
And as we went the Voice behind me said: "Behold a good nation walking in a sacred manner in a good land! "Then I looked up and saw that there were four ascents ahead, and these were generations I should know. Now we were on the first ascent, and all the land was green. And as the long line climbed, all the old men and women raised their hands, palms forward, to the far sky yonder and began to croon a song together, and the sky ahead was filled with clouds of baby faces.
The value of the work is immeasurable and one of its resounding themes is sacrifice, as is expressed in the introduction to the work.
Certainly in Black Elk's visions we have a natural relationship to the rest of the cosmos devoid of the trial-court paradigm but incorporating the theme of sacrifice so important to all religions in a consistent and comprehensible way.
The message being that we are not as different as we would have ourselves believe.
In the final work the Hiding Place the humilty of the author is evident throughout her work, as she tells the story, as if she has done nothing miraculous. She has made the ultimate sacrifice in that she has last all her remaining family and still continued to sacrifice all her life to help people who were displaced by the war. In one statement regarding her opinion of the good in all people, she explains her father's outlook on life as one of her guiding sources for faith in humanity. When her father has finally conceded that the work of the Nazi's is of coarse evil and worth fighting against, his daughters are surprised, as his common stand has always been the ability to look for the good in everything and everyone. In this he could find no good and no honorable actions. "Betsie and I sat rooted to our chairs. Father, so skilled at finding good in every situation, so slow to believe evil." Corrie's faith is woven extensively throughout the work, and can be seen in the previous quotations as well.
Within the human experience religious experiences are often some of the most fundamental and life shaping. These three works express many differences, in composition and tone as well as in the variance of the faiths that are expressed by their characters and of coarse their locations and cultures. The values that they teach through the expressions of their life's stories however are universal. Each work expresses humility as a personal standard, faith as a steadfast individual character trait, express belief in the inherent good of humanity, and the need to make personal sacrifices for the good of others.
Gandhi, M.K. Gandhi's Autobiography the Story of My Experiments with Truth. Trans. Mahadev Desai. Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1948.
Neihardt, John G. Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska press, 1988.
Ten Boom, Corrie. The Hiding Place. New York: Barbour Publishing, 2000.
M.K. Gandhi, Gandhi's Autobiography the Story of My Experiments with Truth, trans. Mahadev Desai (Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1948) 18.
John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska press, 1988) 2.
Corrie Ten Boom the Hiding Place (New York: Barbour Publishing, 2000) 6.
Ten Boom 142.
Ten Boom 141.
K. Gandhi, Gandhi's Autobiography the Story of My Experiments with Truth, trans. Mahadev Desai (Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1948) 31, Questia, 26 Nov. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=98066174.
M.K. Gandhi, Gandhi's Autobiography the Story of My Experiments with Truth, trans. Mahadev Desai (Washington, DC: Public Affairs Press, 1948) 562.
John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska press, 1988) 1, Questia, 26 Nov. 2007 http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=101478478.
Ten Boom, 58.[continue]
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