Today Christians the world over remember and commemorate the death of Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus Christ was not a peaceful one. It was a brutal and violent end to the life of one of the most gentle and unique persons who have ever lived. Normally we like to believe that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. But the question today is why do bad things happen to good people?
From the dawn of human civilization, people have dealt violently and harshly with those who thought and acted differently from them. We are threatened by what is different and new because it questions what we hold sacred and inviolable and the things that give us meaning and security to life.
In fact it was only a few centuries ago that people the world over accepted slavery as a way of life. Those who dared to question this ancient practice were dealt with critically and harshly. In the United States, an entire civil war was fought over this issue and thousands of people died. Those who spoke against slavery were ridiculed and rejected. People saw them as a threat to their way of life. Yet only a few centuries later the then US President Abraham Lincoln who led this struggle against slavery is considered a pioneer and hero of freedom and liberty.
In today’s world we see this pattern of behaviour repeated in most trouble-spots. People who want to keep things unchanged, react violently and harshly towards those who press for change. Then again those who want things to change become equally intolerant and violent towards those who oppose them. This principle is true not only concerning the political and ethnic spheres but also in religion. Some of the most brutal wars ever fought and some of the most terrible acts of brutality have been perpetrated in the name of peaceful, compassionate and merciful religions. The sad truth is that the followers of enlightened and liberated religious leaders remain trapped in primitive and selfish ways of thinking and behaviour.
On Good Friday the world is offered an alternative to violence and the use of force, which many see as the only way to deal with those who threaten them. Jesus Christ responded with love, mercy and forgiveness towards those who were violent and revengeful towards him. His responses seemed so weak and ineffective at that time. Yet history records how this response changed the hearts of those around him and unleashed a movement that ultimately changed the world of that time. Violence and force capture and imprison the outer person who sullenly awaits a chance to react back in kind. Love, mercy, and compassion capture the heart of a person and inspires him or her to rise above their insecurities and fears and imagine a new and better world.
As a nation dealing with complex and crucial issues of ethnic and religious harmony, good governance and a sustainable environment, it is imperative that we reflect on the new ways of dealing with differences and change. Let the founders of all the major religions practised in our country, be our guides.