By Natalie Kelly
Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story is the recently published follow up to 2014’s Grandfather Gandhi. Local author, Bethany Hegedus and Arun Gandhi, Mohandas K. Gandhi’s grandson, wrote both books.
Bethany Hegedus will be speaking and signing copies of her book this weekend at BookPeople. It is fitting that she is doing so on September 11, as that date has great significance to how these books came about. Hegedus heard Arun Gandhi at a speaking engagement after the 9/11 attacks in New York City and together they agreed to honor some of the memories he has of his grandfather by writing these stories. This has been her way of doing something good for the world after living through such a horrifying event in our history.
Many have heard of the inspirational teachings of the Mahatma and this book brings up the “Be The Change” notion and thoughtfully explores what it means. The authors encourage the reader to take the “Be The Change” pledge they have created.
Be The Change Pledge
I pledge to dig deep to understand passive violence, to find the roots of my thoughts and actions.
I pledge to not overuse resources-to focus on my needs over my wants.
I pledge to learn to work with others, as one, for the good of all.
I pledge to be the change I wish to see in the world.
Before reading this book, I hadn’t really thought of the difference between physical violence and passive violence. The aspect that Arun, as a young man, had trouble with was being wasteful. His grandfather teaches him that he is displaying passive violence through his actions of wasting resources. He shows him that simply throwing away a pencil that is no longer perfect is wasting a resource. More importantly, he teaches him about the consequences his choices have for his community. It is written in a way that will help children see that each action or thought can have lasting affects on others. It opens their eyes to the idea of doing things for the good of all.
After I read the story to my 4-year-old son, I asked him what he thought of it and if he could think of any way he is wasteful. He said he liked the pictures the most. Evan Turk beautifully illustrates it. Second, he said that the grandfather reminded him of me. (I’ll take a comparison to Gandhi any day, thank you.)
He talked about how he sometimes takes a bite or two of an apple and tries to throw it away. He knows I think that is wasteful and that it’s better if we cut it up into slices and share it with his little brother. The story opened a casual dialogue between us about things in our house that we can take a second look at before throwing in the trash. We talked about how we can be better at taking care of our clothes and toys so we can get as much use out of them as possible. This is a wonderful book for families to read together and discuss how they can be more mindful of their resources.
Bethany Hegedus of Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story will host a book signing on Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 2:00pm at BookPeople, located at 603 N. Lamar Blvd. Austin, TX 78703.