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Nonviolent co-existence is a challenge to change the world : Fr Bijesh Philip

Posted By Editor On May 23, 2011 @ 6:20 pm In Columns,Features,Opinions | No Comments

Wolves and sheep will live together in peace,
and leopards will lie down with young goats.
Calves and lion cubs will feed together,
and little children will take care of them
Cows and bears will eat together,
and their calves and cubs will lie down in peace.
Lions will eat straw as cattle do.
Even a baby will not be harmed
if it plays near a poisonous snake.
Isaiah 11:6-9.

KINGSTON, Jamaica: Dr Fr Bijesh Philip, Principal, St Thomas Orthodox Theological Seminary, Nagpur, has shared

his experiences acting as a facilitator as the leader of one of the Bible study groups at the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Jamaica.

His address at the IEPC was on “A Divine Vision of Non-Violence and Harmonious Coexistence” and was based on a Reflection from Isaiah 11:6-9 which deals with the peaceful kingdom.

The text appears to be a description of life in Noah’s ark. It gives a hope of the renewal of the world. Eschatological hope is described in metaphorical language from the text.

Fr Bijesh goes on to categorise this into three parts. Firstly, it deals with peaceful coexistence, secondly with on survival of the weakest and finally transformation of the jungle into a paradise.

There is no violence which is usual in the jungle in this picture. Instead the prophecy put the predator and prey together. Wild animals and domestic ones graze together with perfect non violence as explained in the text.
In this context, Fr Bijesh explains how the spectre of killings occurred in Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan and other parts of the world and in racial, tribal conflicts and violence. Also those perished in communal clashes like in Gujarat, India in 2002. Many people are still under the wrong impression that violence is the means to ensure well being and peace to their community of tribe.

But violence is spiral and one violence leads to further counter violence. This picture is in stark contrast to violence and wars we see today in the media. How many millions were killed in world wars and holocaust and terrorism and war on terrorism. Albert Scheitzer while serving in Lamebrain, Africa was asked by the cannibals there about the irrationality of the so called Christians killing each other in huge numbers in Europe in the world wars. Cannibals kill just to satisfy their hunger.

The above vision of nonviolent co-existence is a challenge to change the world and also individuals. When Nelson Mandela was released after spending 27 years in Prison in South Africa under the rule of the whites, he could have easily ignited a conflict of whites and blacks.

But instead of that when this prophet of peace came out, he was encouraging the South Africans to own his dream of a country where blacks and whites live together peacefully, he points out. To a great extent, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in such situations.

Elaborating on the survival of the weakest, he explains that the core of evolution theory is the principle of jungle. But preservation of the weak is the divine rule which is beautifully described in this prophetic vision. The images of the calf, the young goat, the young ones of cow and bear, the weaned child points to the helpless and weak ones among the humans as well as the rest of the creation. How many weak species are destroyed by the ‘mighty’ humans in their attempt to enhance their comforts and facilities? How many tribals and dalits are further marginalised in the name of development and progress?, he asks.

Lastly, he deals with the transformation of the jungle into paradise. Domination, conflict, and violence are replaced by non-violence, peace and harmony. This change is attained by attitudinal changes in the expected saviour or liberator rule and not by force or external pressures.

By laws, judiciary, police and army alone the world will not get peace. Divine grace and wisdom are important for world peace, peace with the creation.

According to the Genesis account, loss of paradise means alienation from God leading to conflict of humans and the rest of creation. The enmity between man and snake in the Genesis account is reversed here by the picture of a small child playing at the hole of a venomous snake in the eschatological prophecy in Isaiah.
The root cause of the change according to this passage is the ‘knowledge of the Lord which fills the whole world (Is 11:9). The lasting peace of the world is with God only. The very purpose of this incarnation was to spread this light and grace in the world.

Fr Bijesh goes on to explain Isaiah chapter 11 which begins with the picture of Messiah: “There shall come forth a rod from the root of Jesse, and a flower shall grow out of his root. The Spirit of God shall rest upon Him…He will judge the cause of the humble. He shall gird His loins with righteousness and cover his sides with truth. (11:1-5). (Righteousness will be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his waist). This is a continuation of the reference to the messianic rule mentioned in Isaiah 9:5-7. He is called Prince of Peace (9:6) and “great shall be his government and of His peace there is no end”. The very purpose of the incarnation was to make our world just, peaceful and holy.


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