Gandhi's self-sufficiency1One day Gandhi went to an English barber to have his hair cut. But the barber said to him, “You black man, I won’t cut your hair! Go away.”
Gandhi was unhappy, but he was, as always, forgiving. So he said, “He is right. If he cuts my hair, who knows what will happen. We are all the time fighting against the British. They feel we are inferior people. Perhaps his boss will fire him if he cuts my hair. After all, our barbers will not cut the hair of someone of a low caste. According to the British, we are inferior. That’s why the British barber is not cutting my hair. What can I do? I shall not go to another barber for more insults.”
So Gandhi cut his own hair. He stood in front of a mirror and started with the front. The front came out well, but the back was not so good.
The next day, when Gandhi came to court, everybody laughed and laughed. “Why didn’t you go to a barber?” they asked.
“One barber has already insulted me,” Gandhi said. “He is absolutely right. Why should he cut my hair? All right, make fun of me. One day I will learn to cut hair and wash things also. I want to be self-sufficient. When I am self-sufficient, I will be really happy. I am sure you are happy now because you are making fun of me and I am happy that I can give you joy. But a day will come when you will be proud of me. I will learn how to cut hair by myself. I want to be self-sufficient in all ways. Today my incapacity is making you happy. Some day my capacity will make you happy.
GIM 177. 20 February 1979↩