We begin the year 2021 with a ray of hope as the Covid-19 vaccination has begun. However, there is more than one pandemic in the world now. Covid-19 only exposes these underlying systemic ailments. Racism, casteism, inequality, hate speech, disregard for the poor, the elderly, the migrants, the farmers and human rights activists – all are with us in pandemic proportions.
Pope Francis, while celebrating the Day of Peace on 01st January 2021 titled his New Year message as
“A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace.” A culture of care is a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time. Pope Francis emphasizes four core social principles that are essential for creating a culture of care. They are 1) Care as promotion of the dignity and rights of each person, 2) Care for the common good, 3) Care through solidarity, and 4) Care and protection of creation.
We are soon going to celebrate the Republic Day of India but sadly, we discover that India is going through a democratic regression. The fundamental building blocks of our diverse democracy are being compromised in an unprecedented manner. India has slipped by 10 places in the 2019 Democracy Index.
The Preamble of our Constitution begins with “We, the people of India.” The word “people” means you and I, the man and woman in the street, the migrants who walked miles home, the farmers who are agitating in Delhi, the human rights activists jailed for being the conscience of democracy. Time has come for us again to think in terms of “we, the people of India” as sovereign of India’s destiny. So, rise Karnataka Jesuits! You and I with an intellectual and spiritual commitment must reach out to the people who have been seriously affected by more than one pandemic. Let us begin a “culture of care as a path to peace” in all our communities and institutions.