I'm enjoying this discussion and I find it amusing how some people derive erroneous conclusions from a simple fact that was stated. I mean, how do you go from the fact that Gandhi's pacifism would not have worked during the Holocaust (and Gandhi himself knew this) to concluding that whoever brings this to mind must believe that people should not better themselves? I'm lost there!
First of all, I'd like to reiterate something here for emphasis. Gandhi's pacifism, and even his famous message of being the change you want to see in the world, although seemingly powerful and admirable, is flawed.
No amount of pacifism could have saved the Jews from what was coming to them. Hitler made sure young Germans were indoctrinated into seeing Jews as inferior and the Church itself sanctioned their ostracisation and I don't have to mention this is religiously related!
Hitler had got hold of a copy of a now known to be anti-Semitic hoax by the name of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which was purported to be evidence that Jewish people were meeting in secret and planned to control the world's economy. Hitler wanted German children to learn about this at school as though it were the truth. Such belief would be ingrained in their minds coupled with the pressures of irrational religious fever that would support it.
The Protocols, even today, are still believed to be genuine and are used as an excuse to persecute Jews in the Arab world!
The point I'm making with all of this is that people have different ideas about what is good and bad, what is moral and immoral, and conflict inevitably arises. No amount of pacifism and no amount of expressed ratiocination would stop a Christian from killing a Jew if he believes this one is a spawn of Satan. The Jew might plead with the Christian to spare him on the grounds of compassion, and even add the reminder that he is just a human being like him, but to the Christian such speech might as well be the Devil using clever and deceitful words.
Had the Jews just stood where they were, without fighting or hiding, the Third Reich's job would have been much easier. Imagine that Jewish people at the time had adopted Gandhi's pacifism and message of being the change they wanted to see in the world. Their pacifist stance before the Nazi German would only insure and invite a speedy execution provided that there is no time for brutal abuse and humiliation. In the Nazi mind, Jews are inferior, and, whatever behaviour these adopt can never sway Third Reich mentality into profound realisations. The Jewish Gandhian internal change would not have prevented the Holocaust. Adolph Hitler had goals in his mind.
In the same vein, the Dalai Lama's Buddhism, however powerful and righteous this philosophy may be (and I happen to vouch for it) could not have stopped the Chinese invasion.
My message to those people who have found their meaning of life is this: you can provide an example but don't expect everyone to see it your way and certainly don't try to force it upon others. I find it nauseating when people start talking about finding "Love" with the capital "L" like it's something everyone must follow, the only truth, as though the world is compatibly as black and white like that. It's quasi-religious in the sense that "Love" is like this deity that everyone must worship. But what version and what about the various interests that people have? Is it globally applicable? Certainly not. Where's the criterion for it that will lead us to an overall ethical solution that will put an end to conflict? People love different things.
A serial killer may kill more people if he loves the sight of blood and the message "be the change you want to see in the world" could incite more violence and unorthodoxical provocation if such individual wishes to see other people do the same. There are minds who fantasise about people killing each other and watching the world burn.
A good samaritan might distract a gang of thugs from kidnapping a poor woman on the streets by simply pretending he is lost and asking for instructions. In the confusion, the woman might escape. But is this the right thing to do? It won't change the way the criminals think and they will still go on doing what they do. In the majority of cases, going against them and letting them know we won't stand for such behaviour is the noblest and most effective option.
Sure, you could be injured or even killed, but those hoodlums would think twice about misbehaving next time if they are reminded that there are risks and consequences. They need to know some people won't just stand there and let it all happen. People are built differently.