US President Barack Obama has said given a chance he would like to have dinner with Mahatma Gandhi, whom he considered a real hero.
Obama expressed his desire in response to a question from a student Lilly during his discussion with 9th graders at Wakefield High School in Arlington Virginia in 2009, where he, accompanied with the Education Secretary, gave a national speech welcoming students back to school.
Obama called for students to take responsibility and to learn from their failures so that they succeed in the end.
“Hi. I’m Lilly. And if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be,” Obama was asked by one of the students.
“Dinner with anyone dead or alive? Well, you know, dead or alive, that’s a pretty big list,” Obama responded amidst laughter. The next moment he was serious.
“You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine,” Obama said. “Now, it would probably be a really small meal because he didn’t eat a lot,” he said amidst laughter. But Mahatma Gandhi is someone who has inspired people across the world for the past several generations, he said.
Terming the iconic figure as the source of inspiration for many, Obama said “he (Mahatma Gandhi) is somebody whom I find a lot of inspiration in. He inspired Dr King (Martin Luther), so if it hadn’t been for the non-violent movement in India, you might not have seen the same non-violent movement for civil rights here in the United States.”
“What was interesting was that he ended up doing so much and changing the world just by the power of his ethics, by his ability to change how people saw each other and saw themselves — and help people who thought they had no power realise that they had power, and then help people who had a lot of power realise that if all they’re doing is oppressing people, then that’s not a really good exercise of power,” Obama said.
Expressing his belief in the way of change proposed by Gandhi, the President said, “I am always interested in people who are able to bring about change, not through violence, not through money, but through the force of their personality and their ethical and moral stances. That is somebody that I would love to sit down and talk to,” said Obama.
Mahatma Gandhi has always been a source of inspiration for this first African-American President of the United States of America.
“In my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things,” he wrote in the ethnic India Abroad newspaper last year.
“That is why his portrait hangs in my Senate office; to remind me that real results will not just come from Washington, they will come from the people,” Obama said.