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

Amit Shah 'wrong': Lack of transparency characterized bank frauds, NPAs, jobs data

Counterview Desk
India's senior RTI activists Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Venktesh Nayak, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, Pankti Jog and Pradip Pradhan, who are attached with the National Campaign for Peoples' Right to Information (NCPRI), have said that Union home minister Amit Shah's claim that the Government of India is committed to transparency stands in sharp contrast to its actual actions.

Untold story of Jammu: Business 'down', students fear lynching, teachers can't speak

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report, seeking to debunk the view that people in Jammu, the second biggest city of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after Srinagar, people had gone “out celebrating” abrogation of Article 370 which took away the state’s special status, has reported what it calls “abominably high levels of fear” across all sections in the town.

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Success of 'political' Hinduism: Kashmiris being depicted as antagonists of rest of India

By Anand K Sahay*
There are times in history when facts call attention to themselves; they assert their independence in all its amplitude and are in no need of the crutch of interpretation. Such a moment is visible in Kashmir now. Merely by being on the table, the facts there taunt the regime’s proclamations.

Kashmiris in a civil disobedience mode, are going against 'diktat' to open shops

Counterview Desk
A team of concerned citizens, including Ludhiana-based psychiatrist and writer Anirudh Kala, Mumbai-based activist and public health professional Brinelle Dsouza, Delhi-based journalist and writer Revati Laul, and social activist Shabnam Hashmi, travelled to Kashmir and Jammu to understand the impact of the abrogation of Article 370 and the subsequent security clampdown and communication blockade on the lives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…