Many young people are active in various social movements and take part in agitations for defending human rights and safeguarding environment. They are zealous and committed to the good of the society. But once they are settled in life, they withdraw from all kinds of social movements and activities. Career and family take up all their time.
Many women and men are active as volunteers in different social organisations after their retirement. They take up these social activities and voluntary services mainly for occupying themselves. They also enjoy the appreciation and status they get as a result of networking with many social organisations. Social activities provide them opportunities to be connected to many distinguished persons of the society.
There is also another group of people who have mastered the art of getting involved with several social groups and people, while they fulfil their responsibilities in their families and carry out their professional tasks. They are able to do it because of the drive or passion they have developed for their mission. During the 40 years of my social and pastoral life I was fortunate to meet many such saintly women and men who are committed to social causes.
Rtn Dr. Renu Singh is an example of a person who is balancing her family responsibilities with commitment to many social work programmes. One can learn from her how a married woman finds time to get involved in social movements without failing in her duty at home and profession. She does not make excuses like ‘I have a family’, ‘it is too far and how can I travel alone so far’, ‘it is expensive’ and the like because her vision has become her passion.
When she committed herself to be a member of Peace Committee of Rotary district 3040 she used to travel by taxi from Nagda to Indore, a distance of 120 km, for monthly meetings. She never failed in this task. She used to reach anywhere to be part of the activities related to Rotary and Peace Movement.
When her husband Dr. Suryaprakash Singh was transferred to Kharach in Bharuch District of Gujarat she did not make excuse of being far away. With full support of her husband Dr. Renu Singh travels 65 km distance by road and boards a train from Surat for arriving at Indore in the morning after making an overnight journey. She participates in a meeting for two hours in the evening and travels back by night train to be back home by afternoon next day. She gladly takes this trouble every month. “When I am committed to a cause I should not be stopped by any obstacle or excuse. Moreover every meeting is an opportunity to learn. My husband understands the mission in which I am engaged and the people who are involved in the mission.” Dr. Suryaprakash, her husband, takes leave to travel with Dr. Renu to participate in the yearly National Peace Convention which is held in different cities of the country.
Advocate Satya Narayan Lathi of 70 years is another example of commitment. From the inception of National Peace Movement he has been participating in every National Peace Convention in different parts of the country with his wife Aruna. She does not make an excuse of not knowing English to be absent from any session. Advocate Lathi inspires and motivates several persons from his village town Sonkatch to participate regularly in the National Peace Convention. Advocate Lathi also participates in the monthly peace committee meetings and other activities. Neither driving a distance of 70 km in the night nor other routine excuses stops him from being present for every meeting. He along with his friends organizes a peace rally and public meeting in Sonkatch on 2nd October every year to mark the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Many women and men who have various responsibilities in the family and in the society make time to be part of the monthly peace committee meeting. They participate in the yearly National Peace Convention in the spirit of an annual pilgrimage. All of them commit themselves to promote peace, knowing well that they have nothing to gain financially except peace and fellowship of people who believe and work for human solidarity. I personally feel that they have understood what I speak often in my talks that “heaven is on earth and eternity is to be experienced in this life; service to human beings is worship to God and love is God”.
All these committed people belong to different faiths and professions. The total transparency, inclusiveness and pluralistic way of life and actions which they have experienced over several years in Universal Solidarity Movement (USM) give them confidence to be part of this sacred mission despite my status as a Catholic priest. It is an example of the positive impact of being the salt and light of the world. It is also an example of the positive impact of being the new wineskin to contain the new wine of diversity. It is an example of giving leadership to people who belong to other faiths and walks of life, despite belonging to a minority community.
It is time for the Church personnel to give up their exclusive mentality and come out of their institutions and structures to play leadership role in the society following the example of Jesus. Let’s be like Jesus: prophets to the nations; bearing lasting fruits; being the salt and light of the world; becoming ‘new wineskin’ to contain the ‘new wine’ of new challenges.
India is going through very difficult times. As disciples of Jesus it is our duty to work for peace and reconciliation. Working for peace is central to the mission of Christ and an urgent mission, especially in the context of India. Yet the Church gives very little importance for this urgent mission. If people of other faiths give so much importance for this mission and spend their money and time for promoting it how much more should the disciples of Christ make this as their priority? The 6th National Peace Convention to be held at Christ University, Bangalore from January 30 to February 1, 2020 is an opportunity for setting our priority for this urgent mission of Christ. Please participate in large numbers and learn the ways of becoming agents of peace and reconciliation. Let’s be like Jesus.(Published on 11th November 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 46)