The Inside Scoop

Katy Koontz

Growing up with the last name of Gandhi has a way of putting you in the spotlight, whether you are pleased about being there or not. Fortunately for Arun Gandhi, the subject of this issue’s “Listening in With …,” carrying on his late grandfather’s work as a peace activist came naturally. 

Our cover subject was born and raised in South Africa during apartheid and was living in India with his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, when that country gained its independence from Great Britain in 1947. He’s certainly seen his share of political turmoil and the poverty and oppression that go along with such struggles. He spent two years as a boy in India, soaking up the teachings of the elder Gandhi, returning to his parents in South Africa just months before his grandfather was assassinated. He later returned to India and spent 30 years as a journalist for The Times of India, focusing on social problems and economic issues, always encouraging people to be more conscious of their responsibilities. 

Gandhi now lives in the United States and travels around the world, speaking, leading educational travel tours, and supporting antipoverty programs. He’s spoken to the United Nations as well as to students on college campuses in all 50 states. In fact, he has a particular interest in imparting his grandfather’s ideas to young people: He’s written two children’s picture books with Bethany Hegedus—Grandfather Gandhi (Atheneum, 2014) and Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story (Atheneum, 2016). 

In addition to avoiding physical violence, Gandhi stresses we must also stop perpetrating what he deems passive (or nonphysical) violence, which includes obvious actions such as discrimination and bullying as well as more subtle displays of intolerance and disrespect—even indifference. The idea is that all passive violence engenders resentment and anger, which eventually fuels violence and destroys peace. 

The subject of peace has certainly been on our minds lately for another reason. I’m proud to announce that “Something Called Peace” by Sam Friedlander (from our January/February 2016 issue; also visit unity.org/resources/articles/called-peace) was named a finalist in two major media industry awards competitions this past fall. The Folio: Magazine Eddie Awards gave the article the nod in the “news/general interest” category, and the min (Media Industry News) Editorial & Design Awards honored it in both the “opinion/commentary” and the “single article (print)” category. We went head-to-head against such esteemed magazines as Cosmopolitan; Consumer Reports; Marie Claire; Parade; O, the Oprah Magazine; and Food & Wine, among others. 

While we’re thrilled to be recognized for our editorial excellence (two years in a row), we’re also deeply grateful for the chance to share the Syrian woman’s story much more widely than she probably expected—especially in light of the post-election turmoil erupting as we go to press. Help us continue to keep the high watch. 

Katy Koontz, Editor
umageditor@unityonline.org