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A Jesuit response to the prevailing climate of divisiveness, hate and intolerance.
“Although we hail from different lands, we share one earth and sky and sun, remember friends the world is one.” this is an excerpt from the song, “The world is one” by Mohammad Rafi. yes we all have a desire and a dream to see our world in peace and united as one family. However today it is becoming more and more difficult to see this dream fulfilled. The world is being torn apart by violence, hate and intolerance. There are people with vested interest who try to create division among people and sow the seed of hate and intolerance for their personal gain. In response to this i would like to bring out, “A Jesuit response to the prevailing climate of divisiveness, hate and intolerance.”
The Jesuits have been actively involving themselves in the fight for reconciliation and justice. In GC 36, we have taken this up as a major priority in our apostolate. Today we need to put more effort in this fight especially against intolerance, as GC32, decree 4 says, “We must put all that we are and have, our whole persons, our communities, institutions, ministries and resources.” The recent statement of the JCSA (Jesuit Conference of South Asia) on tackling saffronisation was a bold initiative. We need to stop being mute spectators and take actions, actions that will create waves of change. I would like to articulate some concrete actions that we Jesuits need to take as Jesuits.
First we need to create awareness about this threat. We must work with people and groups sharing our concern to spread this awareness. We need to take initiative to create awareness in our society, church, institutions, parishes and various other centres. we need to review the value education being taught in our schools. It is sad to see that some leaders of this groups creating intolerance have studied in our schools. We need to be bold in pointing out threats by this people as Robert Frost says, “Freedom lies in being bold.” If we want to see a world free of intolerance we need to fight boldly now.
Second, We need to stem out religious fundamentalism from our own church. We need to remove the thinking in us that our church is the true church and superior, instead we need to create an image of a tolerant church. The best way to fight intolerance is to be tolerant and respect other people’s beliefs and cultures. It would be a futile effort on our part to have Christianized the whole world and yet find people can’t love each other. What we need to do is work on spreading message of love, peace and tolerance.
Third, we need to work to create effective dialogues between religions, races and tribes etc. we have actively been involving ourselves in interreligious dialogues but the progress seemed to be slow. We need to delve deeper and bring out effective actions and solutions. We should encourage celebrating festivals of other religions and conduct interfaith worship services. Those in formation should be actively involved in these dialogues. I found it very beneficial to me when I attended one of these dialogues as a Jesuit Junior. It changed my perspective of looking at other religion. We also need to promote inculturation and inter cultural exposures.
Fourth, we need to give greater importance to our youth ministry. It is sad that we have often paid less attention to youth ministry. Youth being future leaders of tomorrow, it is important that we inculcate in them a spirit of love and tolerance. Many youth have fallen easy prey to false propagandas. we need to create platform where we can listen to their views and expressions. creating organisation like JYF(Jesuit Youth Forum) can also be a place where youth irrespective of Race, religion can come and learn each others religion and beliefs. We can also instil in them values for human concern by inviting them to work with JRS and Jesuit volunteer service. Paying more attention to youth ministry is an urgent call today.
Fifth, GC 31 gave us a clear direction that we need to make the best use of mass media in our ministry. Fringe groups and fundamentalists have exploited mass media to their best advantage. we too need to make use of this powerful tool to fight against them. There are many Jesuits who have done courses on Mass media and communications, it is time they put into practice what they have learned. In mass media, social media is one effective tool that we can use today as a weapon to fight intolerance. We can share our views with others who share the same concern through social media. Social media can be used to break down boundaries created by Humans.
Sixth, we need to create network with the society, church and other social church to promote the ideology of secularism. We can conduct seminars, rallies and awareness camps to spread awareness and promote the idea of a pluralistic and inclusive world. we can also promote the idea of a diverse world as someone beautifully said, “The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people.” creating network to hold discussions with various groups that share our ideas and concern and can create waves of change. If we interconnect all our institutions and hold simultaneous seminars and rallies on this issue to create awareness, we can make a big difference in the world.
Seventh, we can create a “Jesuit connection”. Today with social media we can easily connect with other people. At present we number 16,378 to be precise. If all of us connect with at least 10 people, using social media to share our concern, we will be igniting a big spark of fire. This is not difficult especially with Facebook, Whatsapp, twitter etc. All we need to do is to sit down and spend a little time sharing our views and listen to their views.
Finally as we take up this action, we must learn, “To love and serve in all things” as our founder St. Ignatius would say. We must also go back to our spiritual excercise where on the last day we contemplate to attain love and find God in all things. This should constantly ring in our hearts as we work to stem out intolerance and create a world of peace and love. Let us be bold and not be afraid to row into the deep as GC 36 called us to. I finally conclude with the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “If we are to have peace on earth…our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”
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