Skip to main content

Nonviolence is the way, something we should begin to put into practice both individually and collectively

By Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
Violence continues to throttle several parts of the world: in the past few days, bombings in Istanbul, Turkey and in the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, Egypt; the escalation of violence in Aleppo Syria -- are just some of the violent acts which have resulted in several deaths and many more injuries. In some places violence has become a way of life, highly institutionalised; little children grow up on stories of war, of how the ‘enemy’ needs to be dealt with. 
For several across the globe there seems to be nothing to hope for: one act of violence spawns another, for retaliation and revenge. Most are oblivious of the truth that ‘eye for an eye’ makes the whole world blind.
Pope Francis in a style which is characteristic of his papacy, has once again sent out a powerful message to the world. It is a message for the Fiftieth World Day of Peace which will be celebrated on January 1st 2017; entitled ‘Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace’, he emphatically states in this message that, “violence is not the cure for our broken world.” 
He calls for a new style of politics built on peace and nonviolence, and at the same time for disarmament, the eradication of nuclear weapons and an end to domestic violence and abuse against women and children.
His message is addressed to the world’s peoples and nations, to heads of state and government, and to religious, civic and community leaders; in wishing all peace, Pope Francis says, “I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity. Especially in situations of conflict, let us respect this, our deepest dignity and make active nonviolence our way of life”. 
Though Catholic in expression, the message clearly transcends the narrow confines of any religion as he proposes an agenda “to banish violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to build nonviolent communities that care for our common home.”
Pope Francis insists that building a new politics of nonviolence starts in the human heart and the home. “The family”, he says, “is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.”. 
Certainly a moot point for reflection as Christmas approaches; do we reflect that the most sought after and given Christmas gifts to little children, are the ‘violent’ ones: ranging from toy guns to play-stations!
The message refers to icons of nonviolence and peace like Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Martin Luther King Jr. Mahatma Gandhi is regarded as the ‘Apostle of Non-Violence’ today; his birth anniversary on October 2nd is observed as the ‘International Day of Non-Violence’.
The World Day of Peace, is celebrated by the Church in India on January 30th, the anniversary of Gandhi’s assassination. Pope Francis also says, “women in particular are often leaders of nonviolence, as for example, was Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women, who organized pray-ins and nonviolent protest that resulted in high-level peace talks to end the second civil war Liberia”.
In our broken world, for Pope Francis, “Mother Teresa is a symbol, an icon of our times… She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crimes – the crimes! – of poverty they created”
Pope Francis has been consistent in his references to those who are responsible for the wars and conflicts in the world today- and specially the military-industrial establishment, “because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world”. 
He goes on further to say, “I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.”
The Beatitudes of Jesus is a ‘manual’ for peace and non-violence; “applying the Beatitudes, which outlines how to be blessed, good and authentic, is also a program and a challenge for political and religious leaders, the heads of international institutions, and business and media executives.”
In the concluding paragraph of his message Pope Francis exhorts, “All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers. In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”
Nonviolence is indeed the way; something which we should begin putting into practise both individually and collectively from today!
---
*Advocacy & Communications, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) MENA Region, Beirut

Comments

TRENDING

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

Union Budget 'moves away' from Right to Education, 1.3 lakh schools closed down

By Dr Aparajita Sharma*
It was a shocking reply by the Union human resource development minister to a question raised in Parliament on closure of schools in a country where lakhs of children are still out of school. On December 2, the minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, told Lok Sabha that the NITI Aayog’s education project, Sath-E, has led to 35,996 schools of different levels being merged in Madhya Pradesh, 4,312 in Jharkhand and 1,803 in Odisha. NITI Aayog is the Central Government’s policy think-tank.

CAA-NPR-NRC will 'target' 99% homeless, who are without birth certificates: NCU

Counterview Desk
Claiming to base on a survey in five states (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu), which finds that over 99% of the homeless people do not have birth certificates, a civil rights organization which networks activists, researchers, urban practioners, lawyers, informal sector workers, has claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as also the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), are likely to adversely impact this section the most.

Modi 'warned': Will not remain silent when women are labelled terrorists and traitors

Counterview Desk
As many as 13 women's rights organizations and 162 individuals have issued an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that in the light of hate speeches during Delhi elections, especially directed against women, it is his "Constitutional duty to protect all citizens" and tell his partymen "to fight the elections in a manner that upholds the Constitution, not one that increases the fear and insecurity among women."

Law 'governing' world's tallest Statue of Unity refers to local tribals as occupiers

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant*
The recently enacted Statue of Unity (SoU) Area Development and Tourism Governance Act, 2019 in Gujarat comes amidst a terrifying atmosphere of intimidation, house arrests, detentions and FIRs, not to mention the overarching implementation of Section 144 across the state.

Trump in Ahmedabad: Did Modi display servile colonial mindset towards gora sahib?

By Rajiv Shah
Donald Trump left Ahmedabad for Agra to "enjoy" the Mughal monument Taj Mahel in the afternoon on Monday, leaving behind scores of huge billboards standing across the megacity showcasing larger than life images of the US president and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some of them boldly captioned: “Two strong leaders of two strong democracies”.

Ramchandra Guha on how Gandhi outgrew his Gujarati bania 'parochialism'

By Rajiv Shah
More than a fortnight ago, prominent historian Ramchandra Guha, who calls himself Gandhi scholar and not a Gandhian, came to Ahmedabad. While I was part of a small group of persons who met him at lunch, his lecture on Gandhi in the evening, where he sought to interpret what swaraj meant to Gandhi, surely, interested the selected audience that had been called to listen to him.

Union Budget: 24 crore people live in the dark, Sitharaman talks of prepaid smart meters

Counterview Desk
The Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), a Delhi-based advocacy group, commenting on the Union budget 2020-21, has has called it a case of missing wood for the trees, pointing out, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman "missed an opportunity to fix the economy, which is reeling under an unprecedented slowdown, with all indices pointing towards a recession."

Ironical? Hindutva is all 'fire and spite', as Muslim women become apostles of peace

By Sandeep Pandey*
On January 26, Republic Day, 2020, while protests simmered against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout India, a dozen North American cities also witnessed historic protests. Indian Embassies have been witness to protests in the past. But this time it was different.