Skip to main content

Powerful world leaders from India to US embark on outrageous lies to keep people divided and submissive

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
Christmas Season is a time for gift-giving; that New Year’s Day falls bang in the midst of it, adds to the significance of the season. In welcoming and celebrating the first day of 2017, there are eight wonderful gifts, one should give to oneself and to others today and for every day of the year. These are:

Gift of Peace
It is a much-needed and perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves and to each other this Christmas. Real peace is a vibrant, living and tangible one.
It is not the peace of the graveyard, but the peace which ordinary people can experience in the marketplace, in a crowded railway station, in a shopping mall, in a place of worship in a discotheque- yes everywhere where they can rub shoulders with one another and create space for the other, irrelevant of the colour of one’s skin of or one’s ethnicity or religion or caste or class The peace of equality and dignity.
The first message which the angels give to ordinary shepherds whilst heralding the birth of Jesus is “Peace on Earth: to all men and women of goodwill!” Today is the World Day of Peace and we pray for the gift of Peace for all!
Gift of Nonviolence
On this World Day of Peace, Pope Francis has given the world a very relevant theme to reflect and act upon ‘Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace’. In his message he emphatically says that, “violence is not the cure for our broken world.”
Pope Francis also reminds us of icons of nonviolence and peace like Mahatma Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Leymah Gbowee and the thousands of Liberian women – all of them deserving of emulation. It is certainly not easy to be nonviolent in a world that seems to have institutionalised violence. The most prized gifts for little children at Christmas are toy guns and violent video games.
We easily blame ‘terrorists’, conveniently forgetting those who profit in manufacturing and peddling arms and ammunition to every side in a war. We have seen enough of violence in this past year (last night a New Year’s party in Istanbul was attacked killing almost forty revellers), wars and conflicts at every level: countries at war, civil wars and domestic violence. Nonviolence is the gift we need for a meaningful and lasting peace.
Gift of Justice
Much of the conflicts in today's world are because of injustices meted out to particular sections of society. Deprivations, exploitation, human rights violations abound everywhere. We generally don’t seem to care about them –as long as we are not affected! Just a few days ago, a UN Security Council resolution on the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, has been totally disregarded, even as most countries of the world support the Palestinian cause.
Then we have the UN Climate Change Conferences which have resulted in the ‘Paris Agreement’ and which today has been signed by 194 countries. However, in a deplorable U-turn some countries feel that they can no longer be held responsible for the climate changes the world has been subjected to. Human rights defenders, the world over, have become soft targets for the powerful. We need to be united and resolute, wherever we are, in fighting injustices. We need to gift ourselves with a more just world!
Gift of Truth
The so-called ‘powerful leaders’ of our world embark on outrageous lies to keep people divided, submissive and subjugated We experience it happening all the time: from India to the United States! In India, these myths, half-truths and preposterous reasoning have been given a new name ‘fekuisms’. During the time of Hitler, the underlying principle was “repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth”; something which his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels mastered to perfection.
The propagation of untruth is today regarded as ‘Goebbelsian’. A large section of the media today is corporatised, bought up or just kotows to the ideology of vested interests. Mahatma Gandhi together with his doctrine of nonviolence (ahimsa) was also adamant on ‘the force of truth’(satyagraha), Truth seekers and whistle-blowers are hounded and done away with. Our world desperately needs to mainstream truth as never before!
Gift of Liberty
Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us that “a piece of freedom is no longer enough for human beings...unlike bread, a slice of liberty does not finish hunger. Freedom is like life. It cannot be had in installments. Freedom is indivisible--we have it all, or we are not free!”. People everywhere continue to be denied their liberty: millions forcibly displaced: child- labourers robbed of their childhood; women dominated and oppressed by patriarchy; higher castes enslaving those below them; the many in prisons without a fair trial; migrant workers tied up in feudal systems- the list is endless!
Then there is ‘fear’ – which grips so many in society today. We label the ‘other’ so easily; we become suspicious of their dress or the language they speak! Liberty is a priceless gift and we need to reflect it in our attitudes, in the way we treat and reach out to others.
Gift of Joy
We celebrate today the feast of Mary Mother of God and we are reminded how Mary kept " all things in her heart”. The sublime joy of Mary, a mother and our Mother, as she looks upon her son Jesus. True joy is something internal and deeply spiritual. There are of course the external manifestations of celebration: as the clock struck twelve last nights, there were fireworks and shouting, the honking of cars and the hooting of trumpets from Tonga to Samoa, over a twenty-two hours’ period.
All were certainly happy to say ‘goodbye’ to one year and ‘welcome’ the other. The fact is that external manifestations of joy however necessary, are short-lived. The world cries for the simple joys of life: the ability to spend time with the poor and the excluded; the orphan and the old; the sick and the lonely. To reach out to another in silent, hidden, unassuming ways. The gentle touch, the warm embrace! We all need to experience that real joy and to share it with others every day of 2017!
Gift of Love
Joy which brings fulfilment, is also love which is tangible. Many in our world today have become pawns to the venom spewed out by our so-called ‘leaders’ who spare no efforts in making their hate and divisive agenda reach every corner of their constituency. They easily discriminate against the vulnerable; use the most derogative language; talk about building walls and have no qualms of conscience in being ready to unleash a nuclear war.
The world urgently needs the soothing balm of love: to touch, to heal, to make whole again. The love that means, compassion and mercy; that demonstrates reconciliation and forgiveness. It is the basic tenet of every major faith of this world. Love, we know, never fails. It is a fool-proof way to negate the blood and the hate that has spilt everywhere. Love indeed is the greatest of gifts-and has to be manifested in deeds!
Gift of Change
Today at the helm of the United Nations we have a new Secretary General, Antonio Guterres; the world looks forward to his stewardship with much expectation. Ban Ki- moon who has just laid down office after ten years, certainly did a great job in the face of many difficulties and hostilities Guterres brings to his office a hands on experience of dealing with refugees and displaced persons as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for almost ten years, earlier.
The world certainly needs change at every level; but we all need change for the better. It does not matter who we are, what we do or the position and the power we hold- what will ultimately triumph is our belief that we can contribute positively to our world. We need to be the change we want to see- very specially in the small, simple, ordinary things of daily life.
Above all, as we enter the New Year 2017, we need to have the courage to gift ourselves with peace, nonviolence, justice, truth, liberty, joy, love and change  and the humility to share it with others!
---
*Advocacy & Communications, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), MENA Region, Beirut

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.