Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
The world observes today, (October 2nd) the 'International Day of Nonviolence' celebrating the memory of Mahatma Gandhi, on his birth anniversary. Gandhi's most powerful tools, in his quest for liberation, were 'Satyagraha' (the force of truth) and 'Ahimsa' (nonviolence).
It is appropriate therefore, on a day like this, to do a reality check and see how falsehood and violence have gripped us in many different ways and have permeated every section of society. Acts of violence hog the media every single day. The front page of most newspapers regularly carry news of murder, arson, rape, hostility, hate, divisiveness, corruption. The list is endless! The tragedy is, we all seem to accept it, as the order of the day.
The whole country heaved a sigh of relief when not a single violent incident was reported anywhere, in the aftermath of the judgement on the Ayodhya issue. The general refrain was, "we have come of age"; but the fact also remains, that a massive amount of troops and security were deployed "to prevent" any untoward incident. Can we still remain nonviolent and secure, if the military / police are not around? Or do our political leaders have to decide when we should be violent or non-violent?
We have institutionalized violence. There are several who readily accept the 'fake' encounters committed by the police. Violent attitudes are apparently systemic: be it towards a girl child, a lower caste or from a different religious background. When we allow prejudice to be the mainstay of our attitudes, we ultimately don't care about the consequences of our actions.
It is therefore, appropriate that as we celebrate the fact that we gave Gandhi to the world, each one of us does something small, (however insignificant) to ensure that we live in a society which is more truthful and less violent. As Gandhi himself reminds us "we need to be the change, we want to see".