Friday, June 18, 2021

The visit

The other day, the Pastor of the Dimapur Ao Bap tist Arogo (DABA) went over to the Gurudwara here and contributed some amount of money towards its langar services. The video of the Pastor praying in the Gurudwara for the Sikh community here went viral. The depth of the joy and gratitude of those present at that time in the Gurudwara, although no seen in the video, were palpable. And one is sure that it wasn’t for the money but the fact of the visit. The Pastor’s earnestness, on behalf of his congregation and his own, to help in the Gurudwara’s langar was also palpable. The DABA Pastor’s visit to the Gurudwara ~ which may not have been for more than half an hour ~ is history-scripting and significant. True, since last year the novel Coronavirus has opened our eyes a lot wider than ever and forced us to confront our beliefs, biases and prejudices. We are not quite there yet but we have started taking small steps in numerous ways. This is an endeavour that must continue because COVID or no COVID, living a life in dignity entails collective empathy, harmony, support and cooperation. While it is also true that over the years in Dimapur, as indeed in Nagaland generally, harmony and cooperation amongst all communities of various belief-systems prevail by and large, but we must also concede that in the bottom of our hearts, we do draw a certain invisible line to distance ourselves from people of other communities and faiths. Somehow, we believe that ours is the only true faith or religion. But faith or religion is meaningless unless we live them. Selfless service to humanity is living our faith or religions. If we are blind to those who need our helping hand to rise up and stand, how would we ever raise the Supreme Being, who we cannot see but does see us? We have created so many images of the Supreme Being we believe in and worship that we have become blind to the Supreme Being that lives in every human being. We are created in His image but we are not divine, and as pretty, pure, perfect and munificent as He is. I don’t know what the Almighty wants or doesn’t want but I believe that He wants us to be better than we are because He has blessed us with His best. The DABA Pastor’s visit to the Gurudwara also signifies our recognition and acknowledgment of our capacities and limitations. The Sikh community has been providing langar to millions of people across the globe during times of distress for centuries. They have the spiritual zeal, the generosity of spirit, organizational and logistical skills and everything it takes to provide langar to those misfortunes have visited during wars and natural calamities, etc. The DABA Pastor’s visit to the Gurudwara is acknowledging that they do it better than us but we can provide the support system thus reach out to those who need our helping hands. This visit is an effort towards collective “raising” of those who have fallen prey to adversities, especially now as the carnage of the Coronavirus is destroying lives, livelihoods and homes. The importance of this visit cannot be over-emphasized considering the leadership role of the Church in our society and State ~ this is definitely one occasion when the Church has shown true leadership, which potentially signals the need for us to change our attitudes and mindset about people and communities who are dissimilar to us in faith and beliefs. This also potentially signals for us to erase irrelevant and inappropriate borders, boundaries and barriers that ghettoize us and have proved to be so detrimental in the larger scheme of human lives, survival and society for plagues and pestilences, as Nature herself, have no respect for the human’s false sense of self and entitlement. Each of us has been blessed with certain talents, assets and advantages, though we often don’t recognize and acknowledge them, or ignore them. Forget the Coronavirus pandemic ~ there was never a time when we didn’t need to utilize these blessings. The pandemic has given us another opportunity to double and treble these talents ~ for using them multiplies our blessing and abundance. These are times to reconnect to the human in us ~ thus honour the Divine, who lives in us. In these times of malevolent winds, let us not bolster the pandemic with any form of bigotry ~ the visit also emphasizes.