By Father Dominic Emmanuel
Jan 28, 2011
In my last column I suggested how life would be different for us and for the rest of the world if we started looking at things positively rather than cursing situations, people, life, religion etc. I had also promised that in my next column I would reflect on some of the ways we could turn our attention to doing positive things.
I recently came across an initiative by Arun Sachdev, a retired mediaperson, christened “Love Commandos”, which is an oxymoron really. For love is always associated with positive emotions and the dictionary meaning of commandos is, “group of soldiers who are trained to make quick attacks in enemy areas”. “Love Commandos” began actually as a response to “honour killing” — another oxymoron there — (can there be honour in killing?), which has become a notorious practice, mainly in Haryana but also in parts of Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Mr Sachdev thought that such a practice, which thrives on a false sense of pride, needs to be responded to by providing the hunted down couple with love and shelter. It is an abundantly positive and creative way of countering a rather depressing reality.
Such a response reminds one of what St. Paul tells us in the Bible: “Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him; if he thirsts, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good”.
There is certainly a lot of evil all around us and this evil is not necessarily in terms of our enemies alone. There is the disgusting reality of deprivation of basic necessities in the life of millions due to utter economic and social poverty. Again, this great destitution is not restricted only to the area of wealth. It also spills over into the penury of ideas where people are stuck with just one view of reality which they consider as the only truth, much like a frog in the well. There are indeed numerous things around us that don’t look right, don’t feel right and are not right. But what do we do about them?
One of the great saints who exemplified through her action the famous quote of Benjamin Franklin, “Instead of cursing darkness, light a candle”, was the saint of the gutter, Mother Teresa. She found extreme poverty around the place where she lived and worked. It brought tears to her eyes but even through those misty eyes she could see clearly what she had to do for the suffering of the world. Like many of us she too could have blamed government policies, complained against the less-caring human beings, cursed the rich and gone on to preach to them about the love of God and love of neighbour. Instead, she picked up a cloth bag with two saris and `5 and took up a gigantic task. Did she succeed in wiping out poverty from the streets of Kolkata? No. But she certainly wiped tears from the eyes and reduced the pain of rejection and loneliness from the lives of millions. Many men and women of goodwill, regardless of which faith they belonged to, joined her in her mission and were transformed in their own personal life because of their involvement with the poorest of the poor. She opened their eyes to the needs of others.
There are others who get involved with some other forms of positive action. For instance, have we ever tried to meet elderly people who are alone and lonely in our own neighbourhood? Many of them have enough money and other comforts. But loneliness in their lives can be as terrible, if not worse, as physical hunger. Engaging with the elderly people won’t cost anyone anything. All that one requires is to find some time to go and talk to them or to listen to their life stories.
Visiting people in the hospital, especially those suffering for a long time and those who have no one to visit them, can be a good way to do something positive for the sick and needy. Another fulfilling deed that I have found in life is to visit prisoners in jails. Some of them are languishing there for no fault or crime of theirs — for them, being closed behind bars for months and sometimes years can be like a slow death.
Yes! It all depends on how we look at the world and how we would like to respond to various realities of life and I have found that being positive in life makes a world of difference to the self and others.
— Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of Parliament of Religions, is currently the director of communication of the Delhi Catholic Church. He was awarded the National Communal Harmony Award 2008 by the Government of India.
Source: Asian Age