On the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of nonviolence and peace, we left Hamilton (Ontario, Canada) following the news that 58 people were massacred in Las Vegas, Arizona, USA, by a white gunman from the 32nd floor of a hotel. He sprayed bullets on a massive crowd of 20,000 people watching a concert. There were 400 and up injured. The casualties will likely go up. President Trump addressed the nation and consoled the Americans.

Only the weekend before (September the 30th), we had celebrated the 25th Gandhi Peace Festival at the City Hall of Hamilton where, the local India-Canada Society in collaboration with McMaster University, a number of civil society and peace groups resolved to pursue the peaceful path of Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela.

It’s really amazing that at the one end, people cry for peaceful resolution of many of the world’s pressing problems; on the other end, some people are bent on exercising the brute force of their power.

The gun debate in the USA is very old. The lawmakers in the country from every ideological persuasion have not been able to get to a consensus on whether people should have unrestricted power to own and use guns. The gun manufacturers have such a strong influence on the politicians and the public opinion that even an honest attempt is nipped in the bud.

The country has been paying a heavy price as gun violence periodically erupts in workplaces, schools and concerts. The mental health issues are also important where the situation is aggravated if guns are handy.

Then at the international level, the USA along with all major powers are interested in selling their arms and ammunitions to the regimes who mercilessly use them against their opponents. Saudi Arabia brutally used destructive weapons against Yemen. There’s an arms race between Iran and Saudi Arabia along with their client states. So are many smaller countries of Africa and South America.

To add to the international panic and confusion, the terrorist outfits like ISIS play their own pernicious role. Upon the Las Vegas massacre, the ISIS claimed that it was responsible for the deadly shooting. They introduced the shooter as Abu Abdul Barr al-Amriki although the FBI has made it clear that the gunman - 64-year-old Stephen Paddock - was not connected to any international terrorist groups.

As we celebrate Gandhi’s birthday, we are faced with the traditional problems of hunger and health. We are now encountered with the new problems of excessive abuse of technology, fake news and rising level of violence.

We must take a pledge to non-violently combat all of them.

Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.

Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.