Gandhi Wasn’t Selfish

People often quote Mahatma Gandhi, but most don’t even know it:

 “Live as if you were to die tomorrow…”

There are a various iterations of this quote in American culture, the most common being, “Live each day like it is your last.”

I think of the cultural truism, “Live each day like it is your last,” and I am disheartened in its selfishness. I would consider the opposite true, to “Live each day like it was your first,” but it implies a level of willful naivete that I am uncomfortable with.

This morning, I went to the internet to look for the origin of  “Live each day like it is your last,” and I came to Gandhi’s quote above; I was surprised that is was attributed to him…until I came to realize that it was only half of his message, and it was (obviously) severely out of context.

The full quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi is:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Mahatma Gandhi encouraged his students to “be the change (they) want to see in the world.” He  hoped that each individual would act each day in a way to leave the largest positive impact on the world, and wake up every morning having learned from their experiences the day before.

Later this morning I will start my work day commuting 15 miles on a highway watching drivers live as if they were to die in minutes, and I will sigh.

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