NINE ELEVEN AND MORE!
- Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
"NINE ELEVEN!" Perhaps, there is no other day in recent memory, that has been so over-defined, by a date. The very mention of it, evokes all kinds of emotions from undiluted hatred
to a sense of helplessness, in the face of rabid terror; from inconsolable grief at the loss of a loved one to heated debates on imponderables. Yes, "nine eleven 2001",
will forever be etched in the human consciousness, even as the picture of clouds of fire spewing from the Twin Towers in New York, involuntarily take a prime- time seat in our sub-consciousness.
NINE ELEVEN 2010, was extra-special for several millions the world over and specially in Asia. It heralded the end of the holy month of Ramadan for the Muslims as they celebrated Eid,
with religious fervour and gaiety. For the Hindus, it was the auspicious Ganesh Chaturthi, the start of the ten-day festivities, praying to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength
and for success in all ones endeavours! In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak popularized Ganesha as a "God for all", and the festival as an occasion for all communities to transcend
the narrow confines of caste and creed. For the Jains, it was Samvatsari, the conclusion of their holy week, Paryushan. On this day, in a magnanimous effort towards reconciliation,
they utter "Michchhami Dukaddam", asking for forgiveness from anyone they might have offended! For the Christians, the day is in the midst of their devotion
to the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as they flock to her various shrines humbly asking that she intercedes to God, to hear their prayers. NINE ELEVEN 2010 was truly a special day!
NINE ELEVEN 1893 - at the very first World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago, Swami Vivekanada gave an impassioned speech, to end sectarianism,
bigotry, fanaticism and violence from this earth by fostering the values enshrined in every religion. "I fervently hope", he said,
"that the bell which tolled this morning in honour of this convention, may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen,
and of all uncharitable feelings between persons, wending their way to the same goal".
NINE ELEVEN 1906, was another historic day for world! In a mass meeting of Indian, Mahatma Gandhi kick-started his non-violent resistance
campaign SATYAGRAHA, in pursuit of truth and justice.Very symbolically, this meeting took place on the grounds of the Hamidia Mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa.
NINE ELEVEN 2001, should never be side-stepped, nor should we permit the reality of it to overcome us with prejudice, hatred or revenge. This will serve no purpose.
Instead, could we demonstrate the courage to allow the vision and values of 1893, 1906 and 2010, permeate the inner-most core of our being and
as Tagore would say, 'guide us to ever-widening thought and action?'
September 11th, 2010
(*Fr. Cedric Prakash sj is the Director of "Prashant", the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)