Pro – Active Peace in our Protests
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
In the recent past, we have seen a steady rise in the number of protests and demonstrations held across Tamil Nadu:
1. We have been protesting for the demands of the Tamil Farmers in Delhi and different parts of Tamil Nadu.
2. We have been protesting in Neduvasal of Pudukottai against the Hydro-Carbon project to protect the rights of people to land and life.
3. We have been actively protesting against the proposed port at Enayam that threatens the livelihood of Christian and Muslim fisherfolk.
4. We have recently begun our protests against the disruption of Good Friday Services in the Parish of Sogandi of the Diocese of Chingleput by the Revenue Department and Police officials, acting at the behest of religious fundamentalist forces.
The question that arises is how to relate these protests and agitations in the background of the message of peace in this paschal season. Yes, the first words that Jesus said to the disciples after his resurrection are, “Peace be with you!”
However, the peace promised by Jesus is not the peace of slavery or subjugation.
The peace of Jesus is a pro-active voice for human rights and dignity.
The Lord preached, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other one too.” (Luke 6:29) but when a guard of the Chief Priest slapped him, Jesus asked, “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” (John 18:23)
Why did Jesus not show his other cheek to the guard of the Chief Priest? The defiance of Jesus is a lesson for us on the difference between the error of ignorance or judgment and the error of malicious intent to oppress. Christian peace is not the peace of slavery and oppression; it is the voice for justice and solidarity.
India has for a long term been a living model of religious pluralism and harmony to the world. Article 25 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the right of every Indian to profess, practice and propagate one’s religious faith. Recently, however, the minorities have become easy targets of systematic violence in our motherland. The present state of affairs is disturbing. On the one hand, there are religious groups bent on forcible conversion of Christians and on the other, there are groups targeting Christians places of worship and churches.
Christian peace is not the absence of conflict but the pro-active presence of true equality and dignity.
Our agitations for the livelihood of farmers, rights of minorities, protection of nature, etc are not against the peace of the Risen Lord. In fact, the above-mentioned agitations are means of ensuring the pro-active peace of Christ in our society today.
Let us join hands in solidarity to voice our concern for a just, equal and harmonious Indian society.
With prayerful wishes,
Archbishop George Antonysamy.