Friday, April 8, 2011

Let us fast and protest against corruption this lent

There is just above two weeks remaining for the great lent to end. We have fasted, prayed, helped and grown spiritually. But have we really grown spiritually? Or are we fooling ourselves that we have? What really should lent and fasting lead to? Should it only lead to personal benefit or should it lead to a much larger social justice and equality in society? Anna Hazare has been fasting now for four days in Jantar Mantar in Delhi for more active involvement of civil society in the Jan Lokpal bill against corruption. Other people are joining the fast in many other parts of the country and they include people from all religions and walks of life in India.

The people who are joining the fast and more importantly joining Anna Hazare are children, women, people from the oppressed communities, and the middle class. In effect they are all people in India affected most by corruption. The UPA government in essence is not against such a bill but may be going safe on how much it should give to the people especially after the experience of the RTI bill which has been a big success and a weapon in the hands of the otherwise powerless Indian to hold the government accountable.

Anna Hazare is not asking for too much. How can a very important group for the bill which has to tackle corruption be constituted without any active participation of civil society? When the politicians themselves are under the scanner for scams and bribes how can they make this bill meaningful and who knows whether they won’t stall this bill for ever?

Different churches are also behind and are offering support for this movement as well. The media have been largely covering the unrest in various Arab countries including Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya. Huge protests by the people of these countries have led to great change. Egypt has been rid of its dictator Hosni Mubarak while Libya is fighting for change from Gadaffi. Little did we know that this unrest could reach India as well. Kashmir has always been a place where people protested against the government along with the North East but other states have been quiet. This fast by Anna Hazare has activated and brought alive the people of India in Jantar Mantar, different states in the North, South, East and West and even in the internet.

It would be appropriate at this point to take this fast very seriously. We are all thinking about the outcome of elections in different states and also preparing for passion week in various churches. This lent we could raise the bar a bit. We could make our fasting and make lent count for the millions in this country. As we congregate in different churches and places of worship we could bring about the feeling that we are fighting for something. This is not against one political party or a few individuals but against the very evil which resides in each and every one of us. This evil of corruption and nepotism should be rooted out of the country and also the church. But for that it should also be rooted out of each one of us.

This thus is a time when the whole country is observing lent. A great fast for a great thing. We are here going beyond religion, caste and social status. We are thus enacting the fast of Jesus to prepare him against the evil in society. If we have observed fasting and lent soberly till now, we have to observe fasting and lent with excitement and with the strength to protest. Thus it is indeed the time for being one with our brothers and sisters in India for the fight against corruption. If ever our lent needed to be counted, it is now.

15 comments:

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Other links

http://www.avaaz.org/en/stand_with_anna_hazare/?rc=fb

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/full-text-of-anna-hazares-letter-to-the-pm/148435-3.html

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/thank-you-sonia-but-please-do-more-says-anna-hazare-97037

Anonymous said...

Rohan Gideon, facebook, 8-4-2011- Jerry, thanks a lot for your reflections. They are thought provoking as always.a visible support of the church is largely missing. We have seen a few individuals who have come forward on their own without any church affiliation. National church bodies and leadership have to be visibly represented to draw more support to this great movement. As you have rightly indicated, those of us who preach during lent should take this movement as of kairotic significance!

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Thanks Rohan. I have also not found a substantial church involvement thus far. Maybe the Catholics actually. Will wait and see. But the common people of India have embraced this movement totally. Just goes to show that people are fed up with corruption. It should also be a wake up call to churches as well. Hope this can shape our services and reflections during passion week. The death and resurrection of Jesus has to count!!!

THomas Samuel said...

Do the common people today have more sense of Justice than the church. We talk a lot of morality and justice within the four walls of the church but very little outside, especially we Pentecostals do not even think or preach about social justice. it is time to do some concrete action. shouldn't we? Good Jerry, keep on reflecting it will bring some changes soon

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Thanks Thomas. The church is but a part of society. Unless people react, corruption will never go away. So people in the church (all denominations) have to first of all root out corruption within themselves as people in other religions are doing. This will lead to challenging corruption in society. I also go along with Philip and Sunil (their comments are on facebook) that caste has to be looked into. Why isn't corruption against dalits for instance being protested by us?
There are several issues within the general discourse of corruption in India.
But I agree with you. Our sense of justice is maybe only limited to our sermons (in some cases even that is missing). So we definitely need to act. Hopefully everyone will join in and do their bit and everyone in this country will benefit from the Jan Lokpal bill. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Vincent Rajkumar, facebook, April 10, 2011- What a better day than Palm Sunday to remind ourselves about our responsibility towards church and state.

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

So true.

Zach George Arapura said...

There is no doubt that the church should indeed play a proactive and a constructive role in a society. Be it corruption,social justice or any such issue, the church has to be involved in a level further than what is usually seen,viz, issuing a statement or such perfunctory actions.
That being said,I believe the fasting of Anna Hazare and his proposed draft of Lokpal bill has been over hyped by the media.
The discussion over the bill has been minimal. The draft contains many flaws. Why is it that no one is bothered to discuss and rectify it? One major flaw is that is that it non-Indian citizens gets to be in the Lokpal committee and pass judgement on Indian citizens.
Another question that needs to be answered is that whether satyagraha has any relevance in a democratic country. According to Ambedkar, "It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods. These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us". Hence I feel that satyagraha is a blackmailing strategy that may have worked well with a unconstitutional foreign power,but it is amoral to use it against ones own nation.

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Zach George Arapura- I can agree with you about satyagraha as it could be exclusive as has been seen in the post mortem of the Hazare episode. But what will the common man/woman in India do when faced with a problem? Take the legal route? Is it accessible to them? Guess we should discuss satyagraha and violence and see which is peaceful in the real sense! You will like this article http://kafila.org/2011/04/12/the-making-of-anna-hazare/
Thanks for your insightful comment as always.

Vinnie said...

Wishing u a happy Easter, Fr!!

Keep up the Blogathon....!

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Thanks Vinnie. You keep writing too! :)

anonymousfriend said...

corruption is evil, and we need to fight against it.but what is happening in our church nowadays??? all protests are there because some one doesn't like some one...the matter is purely personnel nothing to do with church and diocese...
visit
http://csipassputhiyararealface.blogspot.com/

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

Guess there are two sides to the coin. What you said also happens. It depends on the case.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr, what ever be the case it is not right to attack a priest personally....people are grown enough to say that there is no holiness in achans...can you accept it??? or you admit it??? there was posters on cathedral wall saying they will pour black oil over bishop if he steps in cathedral....what this all happens in our diocese?? these people doesn't know what is cathedral and what is bishop..all are came to protest??? to protest what??? that doesn't know....just hatred to white cassock..because they held some power.....!!!

Fr. Jerry Kurian said...

I guess there are various ways of protesting. Non-violent and violent. The protest by the Anna Hazare group was non-violent. But protests in other places do turn violent. I suppose if there is a space for people to express their opinions and be counted, there will be no need for protests. Wherever that space is not provided protests could errupt.
I do not know what is happening in your diocese. And therefore it is not appropriate for me to comment on it. But I am open to more interaction with you. Hope it would help both of us. Thanks.