TODAY: AUGUST 9th 2013!
- Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
TODAY: August 9th 2013! On this day, in 1945 the American forces dropped yet another atomic bomb on Nagasaki in Japan. Exactly three days after, the first one was dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb destroyed the city totally and an estimated 73,000 people were killed. Several thousands more were maimed or affected for life. At the end of World War II, the world said “NEVER AGAIN!” On this day, we need to pledge once again to say ‘NO” to every type of violence and war and very specially to all that is nuclear.
TODAY: August 9th 2013! We observe ‘The International Day of the World’s Indigenous People’. The theme this year of the day is “Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements”. There is so much lip-service that we pay to the adivasis (indigenous people) of our country. Through mega-projects and lop-sided policies, we have in a very systematic way deprived and denied them of what is rightfully theirs, very specially Jal (water), Jungle (forest) and Jameen (land). The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navi Pillay says, “even when signed or otherwise agreed more than a century ago, many treaties remain the cornerstone for the protection of the identity, land and customs of indigenous peoples, determining the relationship they have with the State”.
TODAY: August 9th 2013! It is the great festival of Eid for Muslims all over! It is the culmination of fasting and prayer during the holy month of Ramadan. We rejoice and celebrate this day. In a personal message, Pope Francis invites all Muslims and Christians to respect each person “first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and his political choices. We are therefore called to think, speak and write respectfully of the other, not only in his presence, but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation. Families, schools, religious teaching and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal.”
TODAY: August 9th 2013! The Catholic Church celebrates the feast of a heroic modern Saint, Sr. Benedicta of the Cross. Born a Jew, as Edith Stein, she converted to the Catholic faith and later became a Discalced Carmelite Nun. Inspite of living in the Netherlands and in a monastery, she was arrested in 1942 by the Nazi regime, sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp where she died in a gas chamber just before the end of the war. Earlier in a bold letter to Pope Pius XI, she wrote, “as a child of the Jewish people who, by the grace of God, for the past eleven years has also been a child of the Catholic Church, I dare to speak to the Father of Christianity about that which oppresses millions of Germans. For weeks we have seen deeds perpetrated in Germany which mock any sense of justice and humanity, not to mention love of neighbor. For years the leaders of National Socialism have been preaching hatred of the Jews. But the responsibility must fall, after all, on those who brought them to this point and it also falls on those who keep silent in the face of such happenings. Everything that happened and continues to happen on a daily basis originates with a government that calls itself ‘Christian’.
TODAY: August 9th 2013! It is ‘August Kranti Day’ when in1942, Mahatma Gandhi launched the Quit India Movement giving a call for civil disobedience and ultimately Satyagraha. It was no looking back in India from that day onwards. This day was the beginning, in fact which gave the country its full independence but also brought within its wake, a struggle filled with hardships and even martyrdom.
TODAY: August 9th 2013! A day of remembrances indeed! A day for us in Gujarat and everywhere else to renew our pledge to all that is sacred in our Constitution: Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity; to say, like Sr. Benedicta, that we will not allow the fascist forces to get the better of us; to remember those who gave us independence so that we will always preserve the pluralism and diversity of our country; to be with our Muslim brethren as we greet one another ‘Eid Mubarak’!; to accompany the adivasi sisters and brothers in their determination to retain their identity and say ‘Jai Adivasi’! Truly a day of celebration: of non-violence, justice, fraternity and the rights of all!
August 9th, 2013
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052